Craft brewing contributes $68bn to US economy

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Breweries and brewpubs boost employment in the craft beer sector. Pic:Getty/shanecotee
Breweries and brewpubs boost employment in the craft beer sector. Pic:Getty/shanecotee

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The US craft beer sector contributed $67.8bn to the US economy in 2016, with craft brewers responsible for more than 456,373 jobs, according to the latest economic impact report from the Brewers Association. 

These figures represent increases on two years ago - with the total contribution to the economy up 21.7% from 2014 – showing that small and independent craft brewers continue to grow as a ‘powerful economic engine that contributes to business and healthy communities in every state’.

The Economic Impact report is a biennial analysis of economic data for craft brewing across all 50 US states.

California tops the chart

The contribution of $67.8bn is derived from the total impact of beer brewed by craft brewers as it moves through breweries, wholesalers and retailers; as well as all non-beer products that brewpub restaurants and brewery taprooms sell.

In terms of employment, craft brewers were responsible for more than 456,373 full-time equivalent jobs, a 7.5% increase from 2014, with 128,768 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs, including serving staff at brewpubs.

Out of all the states, California’s craft beer sector had the greatest economic impact: contributing $7.3bn and supporting 49,308 jobs. This was followed by Pennsylvania ($5.8bn), Texas ($4.5bn), New York ($3.4bn) and Florida ($3.1bn).

However, in per capita terms Colorado tops the charts, with an output per capita (of adults over 21 years old) of $764.

Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, said: Craft breweries are a vibrant and flourishing economic force at the local, state and national level.

“As consumers continue to demand a wide range of high quality, full-flavored beers, small and independent craft brewers are meeting this growing demand with innovative offerings, creating high levels of economic value in the process.”

More mature market

The Economic Impact report is based on two national surveys conducted by the Brewers Association: the annual Beer Industry Production Survey (BIPS), and the bi-annual Brewery Operations Benchmarking Survey (BOBS), as well as additional government and market data.

Craft brewers are defined by the Brewers Association as small (annual production of 6 million barrels or less); independent (less than 25% owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not a craft brewer) and traditional (majority of volumes in beers whose flavors derive from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation).

While growth in the US craft beer market has slowed down – posting a 5% increase in volume production​ in the first six months of 2017 compared to 8% in the comparable period last year – this reflects a more mature and highly competitive market.

As of June 30, 2017, there were 5,562 US breweries in operation, an increase of 906 compared to the same period last year, with an additional 2,739 breweries in the works, according to the Brewers Association’s figures.  

The full economic impact report is available here.

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