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Sweet news: Pennsylvania has the country’s fourth-largest ‘candy economy’

A new report finds that Pennsylvania’s candy production accounts for a record number of local jobs.

By Rebekah Sager - October 18, 2023
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A mixture of Hershey's chocolates is displayed in the company's Times Square store, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Candy production and sales can have a sweet impact on local economies. In the case of the Hershey Company in Pennsylvania, the local economy is reaping the benefits. 

As of 2022, Hershey employed 19,865 full-time workers, according to the website Statista, and in 2023, the company was ranked 33 on the Forbes list of America’s Best-in-State Employers. 

Pennsylvania comes in at No. 4 on the list of the nation’s largest so-called candy economies, according to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled by the website Upgraded Points. Vermont is No. 1. 

The concentration of those working in the candy industry in Pennsylvania is 2.4 times higher than the national average; their pay is 2.7 times higher than the local average, and the concentration of candy businesses is 1.6 times higher in Pennsylvania than in other states. 

The annual “State of Treating” report of the National Confectioners Association, the industry’s trade organization and lobbying arm, found that candy sales were $42.6 billion in 2022, up from $36.9 billion in 2021.

Hershey’s sales were at their highest level so far in 2022 at $10.4 billion, up 16% from the year before. 

But candy production and sales haven’t just impacted the local economy in Pennsylvania. By creating jobs and supporting businesses, in the case of Hershey, they can also have a positive impact on the environment.

In August, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Hershey announced a $2 million commitment to support local dairy farmers. The EPA put up $1 million, and Hershey matched with the other $1 million. The money will support the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, an environmental organization that focuses on the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and the agricultural company Land O’Lakes Inc. The goal is to support and improve agricultural conservation practices at local dairies.

“Dairy farmers are critical to our supply chain and our local communities. … We are proud to support the work of Sustainable Dairy PA and the farmers participating as they drive meaningful impact on clean water and conservation efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay,” said Leigh Horner, chief sustainability officer for Hershey, according to an Aug. 22 press release from the EPA. 

Hershey’s workers in Pennsylvania are members of Local 464 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM).

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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