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Meat, Poultry Mean $1 Trillion to U.S. Economy

The U.S. meat and poultry industry accounts for $1.02 trillion in total economic output, or 5.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according a new economic impact analysis conducted by New York-based John Dunham & Associates for the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).

The meat and poultry industry is responsible for 5.4 million jobs and $257 billion in wages, the report found. An estimated 527,019 people have jobs in production and packing, importing operations, sales, packaging, and direct distribution of meat and poultry products. Wholesaling directly employs an estimated 232,418 individuals in all 50 states, and 1.11 million employees’ retail jobs depend on the sale of meat and poultry products to the public. In all, the meat and poultry industry (packers, processors, wholesalers and retailers) directly employs 1.9 million people, paying $71.63 billion in wages and benefits.

In addition, approximately 2 million full-time equivalent jobs are created in firms that supply goods and services to the meat and poultry industry. This includes people working in industries as broad as real estate services, trucking and container manufacturing. An additional 1.57 million people have jobs throughout the economy that depend on the re-spending of wages by meat and poultry, as well as supplier industry employees.  These range from restaurant workers to automobile mechanics, bakers and refrigerator manufacturers.

State-by-state Impact

Using data from 2014, Dunham’s analysis is featured online at, which enables users to view the summary of findings presented nationally, on a state-by-state basis, or on a congressional district-by-district basis.  The site also showcases the top 10 states in terms of direct output and total output, as well as the top 25 congressional districts in terms of direct output and total output.

“The companies and the people that produce, process, distribute and sell nutritious meat and poultry products are an essential part of the U.S. economy,” said Barry Carpenter, presidsent and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NAMI.  “We are proud that we provide millions of quality jobs in every state and every sector of the U.S. economy, and that these jobs ensure people in North America and around the world have access to our high-quality, nutritious and affordable products.”

In addition to the direct economic impact, the study also captured the economic impact of suppliers to the industry and the total induced impact, or multiplier effect, on the economy of spending by employees of the direct industry and supplier firms.

“While meat and poultry plants are not found in every city in America, our products have a large presence and create millions of jobs and economic impact nationwide,” noted Brian Coehlo, NAMI chairman and president of Central Valley Meat, in Hanford, Calif.  “I’m proud that my company’s economic impact helps puts California’s 21st congressional district on the top 25 list of districts with the biggest meat and poultry industry-generated economic impact.”

Importantly, the analysis also calculated the industry’s contribution to the public finances of communities.  Not only does the meat and poultry industry create jobs, it also generates sizeable tax revenues in two forms. Traditional direct taxes paid by firms and their employees provide more than $108.42 billion in revenues to the federal, state and local governments.  In addition, meat and poultry consumption generates $3.26 billion in state sales taxes.

 “The taxes paid by the meat and poultry industry and its employees contribute to national defense, schools, health care, roads, veterans' benefits, and even the government regulation of our own industry – which is the most heavily regulated and inspected industry in America,” Carpenter added.

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