San Diego breweries offer highest wages in industry, report says

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego’s 114 breweries and brewpubs collectively employed more than 4,500 workers and offered the highest average wages in the industry, according to a report released Tuesday.

The figures of the report released by National University System Institute for Policy Research show strong growth from the year before — $125 million more in revenue and 750 or so additional employees. The breweries had combined sales of $851 million last year.

Report author Vince Vasquez said that despite the increases, the local brewing industry faces some challenges ahead that will bear watching.

“Industry sales and jobs continue to rise each year in San Diego, but the local marketplace for craft beer is changing,” Vasquez said. “Regional marketing efforts and consumer education will be critical in identifying ‘craft’ brewers in a new era of industry acquisitions and expansions in San Diego.”

Among the challenges, average brewery wages that had hit $40,000 locally in 2014 slipped under $37,000 the following year. San Diego breweries have offered the highest wages in the industry, but were nearly matched in 2015 by counterparts in Portland and Boulder, Colorado, according to the report.

The San Diego pay rate was comparable to the level of 2012, according to the study.

Vasquez said 52 percent of area brewery workers were employed full-time – – with the largest and most established firms, and the newest and smallest — having the largest percentage of full-time employees. He found that mid-sized breweries were most dependent on part-timers.

Other concerns listed by brewery executives were access to capital, the availability of real estate, and distribution. Taxes, and state and federal regulations, were the lowest of nine potential impediments to growth that they considered, according to the report.

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