Meat Plants Employed Nearly 31% of US Food Workers in 2021

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The latest federal data shows that in 2021, the U.S. food and beverage manufacturing sector employed 1.7 million people, or more than 1.1 percent of all U.S. nonfarm employment.

Within the U.S. manufacturing sector, food and beverage manufacturing employees accounted for the largest share of employees, 15.4 percent. USDA’s Economic Research Service Monday announced the data, noting that these employees help to transform raw agricultural materials into food products for intermediate use or final consumption in thousands of food and beverage manufacturing plants located throughout the country.

Manufacturing jobs include processing, inspecting, packing, janitorial and guard services, product development, and recordkeeping, as well as nonproduction duties such as sales, delivery, advertising, and clerical and routine office functions. In 2021, meat and poultry plants employed the largest share of food and beverage manufacturing workers at 30.6 percent, followed by bakeries at 14.7 percent, and beverage plants at 12.4 percent.

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