Beer industry adds jobs amid declining sales

Beer industry adds jobs amid declining sales
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The U.S. beer industry added more breweries and workers to payrolls from 2016 to 2018, despite a dip in sales during that period, according to a new report.

More than 1,100 breweries have been established since 2016, and the industry added about 5,180 employees, according to a biennial study of the industry’s economic contributions in 2018 prepared for the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

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The bulk of new beer establishments have been smaller breweries or brewpubs, while larger brewers accounted for about 58 percent of employment.

Overall volumes of beer sales were down by 2.4 percent since 2016, while brewing jobs increased by 8 percent.

"The marketplace for beverage alcohol is incredibly competitive," National Beer Wholesalers Association President Craig Purser told The Hill. "Consumers don’t consume beer like they used to in some ways, and in a lot of ways they’re not consuming alcohol."

He noted that in 1983, there were fewer than 50 breweries in the U.S.

“Volume is down but revenue is up in a very disrupted industry, and the disruption has been going on in this industry for more than 30 years,” Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute, told The Hill. “There’s a real discussion going on in the industry now about mindful drinking. We’re seeing consumers more and more are interested in health and wellness."

About 2.1 million American workers are tied in one way or another to the production, distribution and sale of beer, according to the report.

The wholesale side of the industry directly employs more than 141,000 people, and overall employment in beer distribution is up by more than 19.2 percent over the past decade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Purser said those 141,000 distribution jobs "have good wages and good benefits."

"Almost no one in my industry makes minimum wage, at least in distribution," he said. "These are good paying jobs and all of them have benefits including health care."