The big business of beer: $15B for regional economy

WASHINGTON — The Beer Institute, the DC-based trade association for the beer industry, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association say the beer industry contributes $350 billion a year to the U.S. economy and creates 2.23 million jobs.

Those big numbers include both direct and indirect economic impacts, but even more directly, beer is big business, including contributions to the Washington region’s economy.

“It is nearly $15 billion (a year) in economic impact in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland alone,” Jim McGreevy, the Brewers Institute’s president and CEO, told WTOP. “And in Delaware, one of the smallest states in the country … [our economic impact] is nearly $1 billion,” he said.

That $15 billion figure includes the impact of the production and sale of beer on a number of industries, from farming and manufacturing, to retail, to the companies that make cans, bottles and kegs. The Beer Institute estimates that nearly a dozen other sectors of the economy are influenced by the sale and production of beer.

“One job in a brewery, we estimate, creates an additional 33 jobs in those other sectors of the economy,” McGreevy said.

There are more than 9,000 beer brewing and beer wholesaling jobs in Virginia, D.C., Maryland and Delaware.

Brewers and beer importers directly employ close to 65,000 Americans, beer distributors directly employ another 134,000.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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