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Impact of Meetings on U.S. Economy

The Convention Industry Council has released a new study, The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy, which reveals that the U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, contributes $106 billion to GDP, $263 million in spending, $60 billion in labour revenue, $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. The study, conducted by PwC US, assisted by a team of industry researchers, spanned more than a year in research and analysis and is the first-ever study of the size and scope of its kind.

The research quantifies the economic contributions made by the 1.8 million meetings, trade shows, conventions, congresses, incentive events and other meetings that take place across the country. Details on the study and the 14 leading membership organizations which formed the research alliance can be found at www.MeetingsMeanBusiness.com.

“As the nation grapples with effective ways to work its way out of a recession, the meetings industry plays a critical role in supporting jobs in communities across America, creating environments that foster innovation, consensus and business success,” said Karen Kotowski, executive director of the Convention Industry Council, the trade organization which unites the meetings sector and educates the public on its profound economic impact. “Two years ago, the value of meetings, one of America’s top economic and social engines, was misunderstood by governments and the public. This new research quantifies the economic significance of our sector for legislators, regulators and economists alike.”

The 1.7 million jobs generated by the meetings industry is larger than many U.S. industries, including broadcasting and communications (1.3 million), truck and rail transportation industries (1.5 million) and computer and electronic product manufacturing (1.1 million). The industry’s 1.7 million jobs generate $60 billion in labour income and support another 4.6 million workers, including industry suppliers and those who rely on meeting output for sales and revenue.

The study found that spending on goods and services that result from meetings and events in the U.S. totals $263 billion. The majority of direct spending ($151 billion) is related to meeting planning and production, venue rental and other non-travel and tourism related commodities; $113 billion spent each year on lodging, food service, transportation and other travel and tourism commodities. The meetings and events sector supports both jobs and spending in allied U.S. industries, including professional meeting organizers and venues, food and beverage, accommodation, transportation, recreation/entertainment, retail, travel services and more. The $263 billion in spending generated $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. The $106 billion meetings contribution to the U.S. GDP is greater than, for example, auto manufacturing ($78 billion), performing arts/spectator sports/museums ($71 billion) and information and data processing services ($76 billion).

“The results of our comprehensive research demonstrate the significance of the meetings industry as a major contributor to the U.S. economy,” said Robert Canton, director, convention and tourism practice for PwC US. “New and proven research standards, as well as definitions provided by the United Nations World Tourism Organization allowed for the measurement of U.S. economic activity resulting from face-to-face meetings.”

A total of 205 million people, representing domestic and international delegates, exhibitors and organizers attended the 1.8 million meetings.

Of the 1.8 million meetings, 1.3 million are classified as corporate or business meetings, 270,000 are conventions, conferences or congresses, 11,000 are trade shows and 66,000 are incentive meetings. The vast majority of meetings (85 percent) were conducted at venues with lodging. Meetings generate 250 million overnight stays by 117 million Americans and five million international attendees.

Including direct, indirect and induced contributions, meetings activity provides $907 billion in total economic output to the U.S. economy. Total economic output also includes a $458 billion value-added contribution to GDP, 6.3 million full-time and part-time jobs, $271 billion in labour income including wages and salaries, benefits and proprietors’ income, $64 billion in federal tax revenue and $46 billion in state and local tax revenue. “Meetings are how business gets done in virtually every state, city and town in America,” said Kotowski. “They are the very definition of working together and are essential to help win our future.”