CINCINNATI -- Politicians who want to boost job growth may only have to reach for a beer for inspiration.
Growth in Ohio in particular should give Tri-State decision makers reason to cheers for job creation and sustainability.
That’s according to the Beer Institute, a non-profit advocacy group for the beer industry.
The group released the results of a biennial impact study conducted along with the National Beer Wholesalers association to measure the impact of beer in the U.S. The study was completed with information taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and tax information.
The group claims the beer industry directly or indirectly employs more than 2 million people and provides nearly $79 billion in wages and benefits. It also pays more than $49 billion in business, person and consumption taxes.
Analysis from Cleveland’s Plain Dealer claims that one job inside a brewery or importer supports 45 jobs outside.
According to the study, Ohio ranked sixth in the nation when it comes to jobs supported by beer. California led the nation with more than 241,000 jobs while Wyoming pulled up last with almost 3,600.
The study said brewing and beer-related work accounts for almost 83,000 jobs in Ohio. The segment accounted for more than $2.9 billion in wages and a total economic impact of $10 billion. Beer in Ohio alone also accounted for more than $353 million in paid taxes.
Indiana wasn’t far behind. It ranked 18th in the nation with almost 39,000 jobs and a total economic impact of more than $3.3 billion. Kentucky was closer to the middle of the field. It ranked 32nd in the nation with 16,520 jobs and an impact of about $1.6 billion.
The Beer Institute said that according to government data, the combined impact of brewers, distributors, retailers and other partners in the U.S. total more than $246.5 billion in 2012.
That snapshot of the effects of the industry may even be a bit behind the times. While the report states that the industry includes more than 2,800 brewers, recent data from the Tax and Trade Bureau shows that the agency accounted for more than 4,500 brewery permits as of June 2014.
However, those permits may include businesses that are either just starting to brew or have yet to brew making an exact count hard to pinpoint.
The Beer Institute also said the industry accounts for more than 3,700 beer distributor facilities and more than 576,000 beer selling retail establishments.
Beer is also shown to have ripple effects that benefit economies of agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transportation and a host of other businesses.
How many is too many?
The craft beer segment in particular can be singled out as a factor in the growth of the industry.
The Beer Institute said the industry grew production by 18 percent in 2013. Craft beer accounted for about 14.3 percent market share by dollars and 7.8 percent by volume in 2013.
But how many breweries is too many?
The answer can be based somewhat on where the new breweries are located and how good the product is, but regardless, the Beer Institute would say “yes.”
Using 2012 data from The Brewers of Europe combined with population data, the institute looked at the number of breweries the U.S. would have when controlled by population.
The study showed that even with more than 3,000 breweries at the time the data was pulled, the U.S. was still only in the middle of the pack compared to Western Europe.
BA data wonk Bart Watson wrote that if the U.S. had the same breweries per capita as Switzerland did, the country would have more than 14,000 breweries.
Watson did say that while the U.S. might never return to its heyday in the 1870s of some-30,000 breweries, the same rate as 1900 would provide for about 7,600.
“Craft brewers are providing world-class, innovative products that continue to excite beer lovers and energize the industry," Watson said.
Consumer choice overload
All those breweries may leave some consumers feeling overwhelmed, but Watson has answers for that problem too.
He wrote that studies so far have found little evidence for alleged “choice overload." If anything, Watson said, the studies found that having a wide selection gave retailers a competitive edge.
“Coupled with the continued rise in the number of breweries, the market growth of craft brewers highlights the ongoing localization of beer production in the United States,” Watson said. “More and more, people are enjoying the products from America’s small and independent brewers, making this country a true destination for beer.”
Those choices were supplemented by a new wealth of knowledge about beer in general that is readily available for consumers. That data came from social apps and websites such as Untappd, BeerAdvocate and RateBeer or from bloggers such as those here at #9beer.
Watson said that a Nielsen study in 2013 found that the No. 1 reason people bought craft beer was to “experiment with different styles, flavors.” A separate study found that 71 percent of respondents “liked the variety of styles and brands” when asked about craft beer.
All told, more breweries aren’t just great for beer geeks; it’s also good for the nation’s bottom line.