Big beer would really like young guys to get jobs

There's a reason pro athletes get Budweiser baths after winning games. (Bob Levey - Getty Images)
The Budweiser bath. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Ever wonder whether guys drink more when they're employed or unemployed? We may have some evidence for the former, courtesy of yesterday's earnings report from the world's largest booze purveyor.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the global beer giant that owns everything from Bud to Boddington's — and is still in the process of absorbing Grupo Modelo — had a bit of a bum quarter. While revenues increased, driven by strong sales in places like China, volumes are down in the United States: For the year to date, sales to retailers are down 2.2 percent and sales to wholesalers down 2.8 percent. The U.S. is still the company's core market, so that's not a great sign.

There were a few reasons for the decline: A price increase kicked in, and there's a longer-term trend away from beer toward wine and spirits:

Beer, falling out of style. (Gallup)
Beer, falling out of style. (Gallup)

But the other thing A-B Inbev is worried about? "Labor participation and unemployment rates among young adult males remain a concern," the release frets. The unemployment rate for males ages 20 to 24 has ticked back up to 14.8 percent in recent months, and that for guys ages 25 to 35 is still high, at 7.8 percent. Young guys out of work might have extra time on their hands, but rent comes before beer.

Nevertheless, the company is still leaning on its standby — Bud Light — to deliver growth. "We think this brand, given its size and stature, can do even more in terms of connecting and bonding with the new young adult males and do even more in terms of executing and activating its properties, like the NFL, and that's our commitment," said CEO Carlos Alves de Brito, on yesterday's earnings call.

Lydia DePillis is a reporter focusing on labor, business, and housing. She previously worked at The New Republic and the Washington City Paper. She's from Seattle.
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