Timothy Ewing, Karl Kever, Yaa Opoku-Agyeman, and Anya Vrabie
This Spotlight on Statistics reviews historical employment trends for distilleries and other components of the beverage manufacturing industry. Additionally, the Spotlight looks at trends in the number of establishments and wages for the distillery industry and compares them to trends among breweries and wineries. Finally, a look at consumer prices for distilled spirits is reviewed.
U.S. employment in the distillery industry exceeded 21,700 in 2021. From 2001 to 2021, the distillery industry added 14,786 jobs, an increase of 214 percent over the 20-year span. The largest over-the-year increases in employment for the industry occurred in 2021 (+3,553) and 2018 (+2,080). The largest 12-month employment percentage increases occurred in 2021 and 2014, at 19.6 percent and 19.2 percent, respectively.
In 2001, four states had employment data for the distillery industry that met BLS publication criteria. Among those states, Kentucky had the most distillery jobs (2,945). By 2021, employment data for the distillery industry were available for 37 states and the District of Columbia. Not surprisingly, Kentucky continued to hold the most distillery jobs in 2021 (6,065), followed by Tennessee (2,060), and Texas (1,407).
Among the 20 largest metropolitan areas for distillery employment in 2021, Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky-Indiana, had the highest concentration for distillery jobs. Louisville’s distillery employment was about 22 times more concentrated than the U.S. average for the industry. Fort Collins, Colorado, had the next highest concentration, followed by Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky.
We compare employment concentrations across areas with a measure called a location quotient. Location quotients are calculated by dividing the percent of total employment for an industry at the local level by the percent of total employment in the industry at the national level. If a location quotient is equal to 1, then the industry has the same share or concentration of local employment as the nation. A location quotient greater than 1 indicates an industry with a greater share of the local area employment than nationwide.
From 2001 to 2021, net employment increased overall in each of the three selected industry sectors. Breweries had the largest percentage increase in jobs over the 2001–21 period (+238 percent), followed by distilleries (+214 percent) and wineries (+177 percent).
In 2021, there were 1,424 distilleries nationwide, about 22 times the number in 2001. The largest 12-month net increases in the number of distilleries occurred in 2021 (+176), 2018 (+159), and 2019 (+151). The largest 12-month percentage increases in the number of distilleries nationwide occurred in 2014 (+38.6 percent), 2012 (+32.1 percent), and 2015 (+31.6 percent).
In 2001, four states recorded having distilleries. Kentucky had the most distilleries (16) followed by Illinois (7). By 2021, distilleries were in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Eleven states had over 50 distilleries in 2021, accounting for 58 percent of all distilleries nationwide. California had the most distilleries in 2021 (104), followed by Texas (103). North Dakota and South Dakota had the fewest number of distilleries in 2021 (2 each).
In 2001, breweries, distilleries, and wineries accounted for 1,528, or 41 percent, of the 3,744 total establishments in the beverage manufacturing industry. From 2001 to 2021, each of the three industry sectors increased in the number of establishments nationwide. In 2021, breweries, distilleries, and wineries combined for a total of 12,133 establishments, or 84.5 percent, of establishments in the beverage manufacturing industry.
Average weekly wages for distilleries were $1,266 in 2021, higher than that of wineries ($1,005) and breweries ($906). Over the 2001–21 period, average weekly wages for the distillery industry ranged from $1,550 in 2012 to $1,088 in 2001.
Average weekly wages for distilleries have exceeded that of wineries each year from 2001 to 21, by an average of $502. Since 2010, average weekly wages for distilleries have exceeded that of breweries by an average of $307.
From 2001 to 2021, the distillery industry gained 1,358 establishments, a 2,058-percent increase. Over the same period, the brewery industry gained 5,056 establishments (+1,277 percent), and the winery industry gained 4,191 establishments (+393 percent).
Total employment within the distillery industry increased 214 percent over the 2001–21 period, which was faster than the growth rate in the winery industry (+177 percent) but slower than the rate in the brewery industry (+238 percent).
Average weekly wages in the distillery industry increased 16 percent from $1,088 in 2001 to $1,266 in 2021. Average weekly wages in the winery industry rose 45 percent—from $692 in 2001 to $1,005 in 2021. Conversely, average weekly wages within the brewery industry declined 18 percent, from $1,110 in 2001 to $906 in 2021.
Prices for distilled spirits away from home were up 3.9 percent in 2021. Prices also increased for beer, ale, and other malt beverages away from home (+3.0 percent) and wine away from home (+2.4 percent) in 2021. Prices for each of the three components increased each year over the 2001–21 period. Within that time frame, price increases for distilled spirits away from home ranged from 4.9 percent in 2007 to 0.7 percent in 2019.
From 2001 to 2021, consumer prices for wine away from home had their largest over-the-year increase in 2002, 7.1 percent, while the largest increase in prices for beer, ale, and other malt beverages away from home occurred in 2006 (+4.4 percent).
Prices for distilled spirits advanced 3.0 percent in 2021. From 2001 to 2021, over-the-year price changes for distilled spirits at home ranged from an increase of 3.5 percent in 2001 to a decrease of 0.4 percent in 2017. Prices for beer, ale, and other malt beverages at home rose each year from 2001–21, peaking at a 3.7-percent increase in 2009. Prices for wine at home have ranged from an increase of 3.6 percent in 2008 to a decrease of 1.4 percent in 2010.
This Spotlight on Statistics was prepared by Regional Economists Timothy Ewing, Karl Kever, Yaa Opoku-Agyeman, and Anya Vrabie in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Economic Analysis and Information branches of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For questions about this Spotlight, please email BLSInfoAtlanta@bls.gov | BLSInfoPhiladelphia@bls.gov.
The data presented in this Spotlight on Statistics are from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) and the Consumer Price Index program (CPI). QCEW data are published quarterly, and measure employment and wages reported by employers covering more than 95 percent of all U.S. jobs. QCEW data are available for counties, Metropolitan Statistical Areas, states, and the nation by industry. The CPI measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services.
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