This post is designed as an accompaniment to the Brewers Association’s (BA) recently published human resources (HR) and salary benchmarking data. This data aggregates member-provided data on wages, bonuses, and benefits for a variety of positions commonly seen inside breweries. The data has been aggregated both by business model (taproom, brewpub, and production), as well as in total. Given the relatively small sample sizes, we have opted not to provide size breakouts, which would both reduce sample size further, as well as potentially expose individual brewery data points.
The BA HR and salary benchmarking effort exists because many of these data points are otherwise difficult to find in other data sets. That said, other data sets may be quite helpful as you benchmark salaries, and we have consciously not gathered data on some positions specifically because better data exists elsewhere. Namely, brewpubs may wish to consult data from either the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or their state restaurant association on culinary and restaurant specific positions.
The BLS data may also be helpful for all breweries as they look to turn our national benchmarks into ranges for their own local labor markets. The specific data set in question I would recommend consulting is the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program. This much broader survey estimates wage levels for nearly 800 occupations, and generates those estimates at both the state and local level. The current data is from May 2020, with 2021 updates coming in spring of 2022. As such, it is possible for both workers and employers to see how occupational wages might compare in their location versus national benchmarks.
For brewpubs, cooks (both supervisory and non-supervisory), bartenders, and waiters/waitresses are included in the occupational data. This spreadsheet will automatically look up average hourly wages for five common restaurant roles once you select your location from a dropdown of nearly 400 areas around the country.
By comparing local to national averages, workers and employers can see how they might adjust wages for a specific position up or down relative to the benchmarks we have compiled. In cases where roles straddle multiple positions, I often recommend doing this exercise with several positions and using averages. In speaking with the BLS, they have indicated that many brewery production occupations fall under 51-9012 (Separating, Filtering, Clarifying, Precipitating, and Still Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders).
In addition, brewers can compare occupations across industries, and in some cases beverage manufacturing may have higher or lower wages. For example, Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders (51-9111) on average earn higher hourly wages in beverage manufacturing than in other food manufacturing industries.
In all, employers should not stop at looking just at BA benchmarks, but considering these types of industry and geographic adjustments.