This past weekend, Americans marked Memorial Day by honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and ushered in the unofficial start of summer. From parade-side to seaside and at backyard barbecues across the country, adults stocked coolers and toasted our fallen heroes with America’s beverage — a frosty cold beer.
It’s the perfect time for the release of the Beer Serves America report. Commissioned by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Beer Serves America documents the $328 billion in positive economic impacts made by this unique industry. The significant economic contributions of this dynamic business touch every community in America and account for 1.6 percent of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
Brewers, beer importers and beer distributors together employ over 200,000 hard-working men and women. Independent beer distributors provide jobs for 141,600 Americans, a 19 percent increase in the last decade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And brewers and beer importers are responsible for 70,000 American jobs — 58 percent of which come from large and mid-sized brewers.
What’s more, every beer job supports 31 more in other sectors, ranging from farming to manufacturing. For example, suppliers to the brewing industry — like businesses that manufacture bottles and cans, cardboard case boxes, brewing equipment or marketing displays — generate nearly $102 billion in economic activity and are responsible for almost 436,650 jobs alone. Another 912,000 retail jobs at restaurants, taverns, grocery stores and more depend, in part, on the beer industry. All of this activity adds up to 2.1 million homegrown jobs, all sustained by beer.
Today, more than ever, is the best time to enjoy America’s drink of moderation. More than 7,000 active U.S. breweries, large and small, corporate and family-owned, are churning out exciting new flavors and longstanding favorites in beer. These beverage products are sold at over 640,000 licensed locations nationwide. And connecting producer and retailer are more than 3,000 distributors helping to grow brands and safely deliver high-quality products to market.
And while many of these jobs are based in thriving metropolitan areas, an equal share spreads across rural towns and redeveloping urban neighborhoods. It’s safe to say beer brewing and distribution touch communities of all sizes and people from every walk of American life.
The beer industry also supports federal, state and local governments — and communities — by paying their fair share of taxes. All told, nearly $58.6 billion in tax revenues are generated by the production and sale of beer and other malt beverages.
The current status of the beer industry shows what’s possible when competition is protected. Thanks to our three-tier system separating production, distribution and retail, every brewery and every new beer gets a shot at success. As a result, our product range now spans 13,000 different labels, a variety of drinking options as diverse as the activities Americans will take part in this weekend.
Beer truly does serve America — creating jobs, driving local economies and fostering pride and community. So if you are pouring a pitcher of lager, cracking open a classic pilsner or mixing up a batch of shandies this summer, raise a glass to the many freedoms we enjoy and the brave men and women who gave their lives to protect them. The 2.1 million Americans whose jobs rely on the production, creation, distribution and sale of beer will join you in that toast.
Craig Purser is president and CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association in Alexandria, Virginia. Jim McGreevy is President and CEO of the Beer Institute in Washington, D.C.
This op-ed by NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser originally ran on Real Clear Policy on May 29, 2019.