40,000 jobs tied to the beer industry have been lost since 2016.

By Mike Pomranz
May 24, 2019
Zero Creatives/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the biennial Beer Serves America report — compiled by the trade groups the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute — touted that the American brewing industry supports over 2 million jobs both directly and indirectly. But the CEO of the Beer Institute, Jim McGreevy, has said he believes it would be supporting more if it weren’t for pesky aluminum tariffs.

The report, which compares data over a two-year period, found that, currently, the number of U.S. jobs tied to the brewing business is at 2.19 million. Some specific types of jobs are seeing growth — like being an actual brewer — but, overall, the total number of jobs, which also includes positions with places like retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and farms, is actually down 40,000 from where it was in 2016. McGreevy pegged this drop to a familiar culprit recently: the Trump administration’s aluminum tariffs which began last year.

“While one can’t say aluminum tariffs are 100 percent to blame for the 40,000 lost jobs, as there are multiple factors, this evidence supports that brewers are making fewer investments and having to make tough decisions because of the added cost of aluminum, and that’s having an impact throughout other parts of our economy,” he told us via email.

Opponents of McGreevy’s criticism might suggest that the beer industry is facing another problem: lagging sales — a trend that predates the tariffs. But in McGreevy’s defense, 40,000 jobs is actually more jobs than the Beer Institute itself predicted would be lost after an aluminum price increase. When Trump announced the tariffs, John Dunham of the economic research firm John Dunham & Associates explained that he believed more than 20,000 jobs tied to the beer industry would be at risk. The discrepancy between these two numbers would seem to support that, as McGreevy says, there are multiple factors — but, yes, the tariffs may very well be one of them.

Advertisement