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Beer a big business in Pa., just not bigger

If you’re looking to stimulate the local economy – and are over 21 – you can make a pretty big impact one gulp at a time.

A report just released jointly by National Beer Wholesalers Association and Beer Institute shows that the beer industry contributes $11 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy each year and $350 billion nationally.

The study also shows that the 72,698 jobs affected by the beer industry in Pennsylvania accounted for more than $3.4 billion in wages and benefits last year.

The industry also generated more than $1.3 billion in business and personal taxes and paid $448 million in consumption taxes in 2016.

While that number may seem high even to the most dedicated tipplers, Lester Jones, chief economist with the National Beer Wholesalers Association, said a “very wide net” was cast in compiling the list of beer benefactors.

“We counted everything from the guys who grow the barley to the ones that mash it to the ones who retail the beer,” Jones said.

“It’s a very connected industry,” he said.

Money isn’t just made by the store, restaurants and bars that sell beer by the pint or bottle, but by the companies that make the cans, design the labels, sell the forklifts to move stock and the palates in which the beer containers are stored.

“We pick up all of the suppliers to the brewer, the suppliers to the distributors, the lease on the delivery truck to the retail sale of beers,” he said.

Not to mention everyone from suppliers to end users is paying either excise, property, income or sales taxes along the way.

Nearly everyone and every aspect of the economy are touched by beer sales in some way – even for people who don’t drink.

To Beer Institute president and CEO Jim McGreevy, that makes beer as American as apple pie.

“Beer serves America at virtually every level of the economy, from the nearly 2.23 million employees, to the small businesses in middle-class communities, and the important tax revenues at the local, state and national levels,” he said. “From farmers to factory workers, from brewery hands to bartenders, beer puts Americans to work.”

Jones did note, that while there are an increasing number of beer producers in Pennsylvania and across the state, that doesn’t mean beer sales are rising dramatically. In fact he said, they’ve been fairly steady in recent years.

“Beer consumption goes with the population,” Jones said. “We don’t make the existing [beer drinkers] drink more. Those new brewers are competing with other producers and suppliers.

“You see more, smaller players, but it’s not making the beer market grow,” Jones said. “If it did, everyone would be stumbling around drunk.”

And that, of course, isn’t good for anyone.


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