August 25, 2019
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1 in 10 Mainers works in a job that creates everyday products

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Groceries being bagged at the Forest Avenue Hanaford supermarket in Portland in this April 2015 file photo.

Strawberries, milk, toilet paper and toothpaste are everyday products, but consumers may not realize just how much those items contribute to the state’s jobs and economy.

One in 10 Mainers works in a job that helps produce and supply such consumer packaged goods, which contribute a total of $6 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.

Consumer goods are pumping up the economies across New England. In Massachusetts, those goods contributed $37 billion to the economy, the most in New England. Maine ranked third in the region in terms of total value of that sector, ahead of New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont but behind Connecticut, where consumer goods contributed $19.7 billion to the state economy.

This is the first year the Grocery Manufacturers Association released the figures, so it had no previous year comparisons, spokesperson Leslie Lake said. This survey will be the benchmark for future surveys, she said.

The numbers, compiled in a study released Tuesday by the Grocery Manufacturers Association industry group and researcher PricewaterhouseCoopers, include both direct jobs and income, as well as and indirect figures from trickle-down benefits to construction, transportation, warehousing, agricultural and other businesses. The study uses the most recent data available from 2017.

Nationwide, the consumer packaged goods industry employs the most people in manufacturing in the United States, the researchers said, or about 18 percent of direct jobs in that industry.

The industry accounts for a total of 20.4 million U.S. direct and indirect jobs, $1.1 trillion that is paid in labor income and a $2 trillion contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product.

“The industry’s impact on the American economy cannot be understated,” Geoff Freeman, the association’s president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.

“Most people don’t consider the jobs and livelihoods they are supporting when they purchase a tube of toothpaste or stock up on their favorite snacks, but the products we all rely on each day have an enormous impact on our economy,” he said.

The average income for workers in the industry is $4,000 more than the national income average, the study found. The researchers based that number on an average national income of $60,700, with consumer goods jobs coming in at $64,700.

However, sales of consumer packaged goods in the United States, which still are largely purchased at grocery stores, remain on a strong growth path. They are projected to keep growing from a total of $636 billion in 2015 to $722 billion in 2020, according to research company Statistica.

Maine had 82,000 total jobs, 10,000 of which were direct, which means they are held by people working directly for companies that produce food, beverages, household goods and personal care products.

Of the total jobs, 40,630 were in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District encompassing the portion of the state north of Portland and Augusta. Another 41,730 were in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

Consumer packaged goods contributed a total of $3.6 billion in labor income to Maine, $541 million of it from direct sources, and a total of $6 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, $1.1 billion of which was from direct sources, the study found.

In other New England states, consumer packaged goods accounted for 8 percent of the total jobs, or 382,000, in Massachusetts. They also contributed a total of $37 billion to the economy, the highest among New England states.

New Hampshire’s data was close to Maine’s, with a total of 69,000 jobs and a $5.7 billion contribution to the state’s gross domestic product.

Some 17 percent of Connecticut’s gross domestic product, or $19.7 billion, came from the consumer goods sector, which also employed 172,000 people.

Vermont saw 13 percent of its total jobs, or 55,000, came from that sector, which also contributed $3.6 billion to the state’s economy.

And Rhode Island saw 7 percent of its gross domestic product, or $4 billion, came from consumer goods, as well as 46,000 total jobs.

California topped the list with the most consumer packaged goods jobs, at 2.6 million. But Nebraska had the highest percentage of employees, 19 percent, directly and indirectly working in the industry.


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