It’s a Beer Recession

Written by Jack Ewing for The New York Times

Declining beer consumption may be contributing to the European debt crisis — at least according to a study commissioned by those who brew it.

The conclusion is not as preposterous as it might sound. Europeans are saving money by drinking at home rather than in pubs, which is costing jobs in the hospitality industry and depressing tax revenue, according to the study by Ernst & Young, which was paid for by the Brewers of Europe, an industry group.

The shift to home consumption has a disproportionate effect on unemployment, because 73 percent of jobs associated with the European beer industry are outside breweries. They are found instead in bars, hotels and restaurants.

‘‘Obviously, the crisis has had an effect,’’ said Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, secretary general of the Brewers of Europe.

Beer consumption in Europe fell 8 percent from 2008 to 2010, the period covered by the study. But employment in the beer industry fell by 12 percent, or 260,000 jobs, the study said. That compares with a 2 percent decline in employment for Europe as a whole.

Job losses can exacerbate the debt crisis because unemployed people typically collect benefits rather than pay taxes. When beer consumption declines, governments also collect less sales tax on beer sales. Continue reading “It’s a Beer Recession”