The pet industry, including pet food, generated more than US$221 billion in direct, indirect and induced economic impact in the US in 2015, according to a study conducted by George Mason University. The economic analysis also showed the pet industry supported over 1.3 million US jobs in 2015 that paid more than $60 billion in salaries, wages and benefits.

“While annual spending for the pet industry is reported each year, this is the first time that anyone has looked at the widespread impact of the pet industry as a whole on the US economy,” said study leader Dr. Terry L. Clower, professor of public policy at George Mason University, in a press release. “Not only does the pet industry contribute more than US$221 billion to the economy, but that also includes an impressive US$23 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

The study was released at the Pet Industry Leadership Conference in Laguna Beach, California. The study was funded by Pet Leadership Council (PLC) and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

Pet industry economic effect study design

To determine the industry’s total economic impact, Clower and his team analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Pet Owners Survey conducted biannually by the American Pet Products Association, and other resources using an economic model. This analysis yielded estimates of direct, indirect and induced economic impacts resulting from initial industry spending.

According to this report, US$77 billion is spent by US consumers on their pets annually. Pet food and veterinary services are the two leading sources of spending within the industry. Other sectors considered in the study include manufacturing of pet supplies and toys, pet pharmaceuticals, grooming, boarding and other services, wholesale and retail trade involving pet products, and the emerging pet health insurance industry.

Pet ownership saves US$11.7 billion in health care costs

Previous research by Clower observed health care cost savings associated with pet ownership. The economic analysis calculated an US$11.7 billion savings in US health care costs as a result of pet ownership.

The largest savings was determined based on a lower incidence of physician office visits by pet owners as compared to non-owners. According to the study, 132.8 million pet owners in the United States visit a doctor 0.6 times less than the average non-pet owners. The average cost of a physician office visit is US$139. Pet owners, in this way, were responsible for saving US$11.37 billion in US health care costs.

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