Chickens, turkeys and eggs contribute $441 billion to U.S. economy

January 6, 2017

A recently released updated economic study shows the U.S. poultry and egg industries continue to make quite a contribution to the United States economy-- 1.6 million jobs, $96 billion in wages, $34 billion in government revenue and $441.15 billion in economic activity, to be exact.

United Egg Producers along with the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation released the year-end study. The egg industry alone provides 81, 515 jobs, $4.99 billion in wages, $22.77 billion in economic activity and $1.78 billion in government revenue. This estimate counts not only jobs directly on egg farms or processing plants, but also jobs in supporting industries that would not exist without egg farmers.

The study also concluded that between all three of the subcategories included in poultry -- chickens, turkeys and eggs -- the average annual salary and benefits amounts to $57,499 per employee, which is well above the national median salary of about $51,000 per household.

All of this economic benefit can’t mask the painfully low egg prices that have plagued the egg industry this year. But eggs also had some wins this year. The numbers are just one way to tell a story about the egg industry’s last 12 months.

Last year brought a huge blow to egg farmers. The avian flu outbreak led to the loss of tens of millions of layers and pullets. Analysts expected 18 months for the supply to recover. However, within a year the egg supply was back to pre-avian flu levels. Just in time to supply all the schools that would be demanding hard-boiled eggs for snack time.

A new USDA regulation allowed for hard-boiled eggs to be added to the list of Smart Snacks as long as no extra fats have been added. It was a sort of vindication for the egg industry as eggs have been plagued with the longstanding myth that the yolk is “bad” for our health. This year, the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans supplied additional evidence that eggs are a healthy food by dropping longstanding limits on dietary cholesterol.

Time highlighted new research that found “eating cholesterol has no real impact on cholesterol metabolism.” In the article, they reiterated the nutrient dense value of the simple egg. Another study found that just one egg per day could decrease the risk of having a stroke by 12 percent. The wonderful news didn’t stop there because eggs are not just for the old; they’re for the young too.

Two separate studies showed that eggs are beneficial for both pregnant mothers and for young babies. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) officially recognized the necessity of choline for growing embryos as the nutrient helps develop a baby’s central nervous system. Among other nutrients, choline is found in abundance in eggs. The EFSA recommended at least two medium-sized eggs per day to help meet the recommended 400 mg per day adequate intake.
But the eggs don’t stop once the baby is born. The Imperial College of London found that babies as early as 4-6 months can benefit from early exposure to eggs and peanuts because it can reduce the risk of developing allergic reactions to both later on in life.

It all “boils” down to one hard fact: eggs are good for the economy and eggs are great for our bodies. Could 2016 have been the year of the egg? As we enter into 2017, we hope that eggs can only get more good news.