A Toast to Small Business Growth
Growth in microbreweries is well documented. According to the Brewers Association, U.S. employment by craft brewers is estimated at 108,440, including serving staff in brewpubs. In addition, retail sales of craft brew products was an estimated $10.2 billion in 2012, up from $8.7 billion in 2011.
This growth has been especially notable in Alabama, which has seen triple-digit production growth in each of the last three years. According to the Alabama Brewers Guild, beer production in Alabama grew by 118 percent in 2012. A change in state law in 2011 has led to the expansion of craft brewing in the state.
There are currently 19 active breweries in Alabama, up from seven at the end of 2011. Employment in Alabama at these establishments, although modest, is also growing very fast, according to the Guild. From just 42 people in 2011, the number of jobs in the state’s craft beer industry is expected to rise to nearly 200 in 2013.
A recent macroblog post noted that nationally, the employment recovery in small business was lagging larger firms’ rebound. In addition, the Atlanta Fed’s twice-yearly survey of small businesses in the Southeast found that in the first quarter of 2013 the outlook for hiring remained essentially unchanged from levels seen in the third quarter of 2012.
It appears that the craft brewing industry is bucking that trend, especially in Alabama.
By Susan Remy, a REIN analyst at the Birmingham Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
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