Economic impact report can help enrich propane conversations

August 6, 2020 By    

Propane-positive messaging is a hot topic in the industry, and it’s gaining traction.

Whether we’re talking about the environment, government or even the pandemic, propane has a role to play, and it’s important that others outside the industry recognize this.

Maybe more than ever, industry leaders are stressing this positive messaging push. We should never assume that others know what we know: that propane is a clean and green, reliable, versatile and abundant fuel. Sharing this information is not only good PR for the industry, it’s imperative for our survival at a time when some parts of the country are attempting to phase out the use of propane and natural gas in favor of electricity.

Propane’s economic impact

In talking about propane-positive messaging, it’s important for the industry to know about a useful, updated report that became available earlier this year.

The “2018 Propane Industry’s Economic Impact Report” estimates the aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) impact of propane industry activity. It also measures the contribution of the odorized propane industry to employment and wages on a national level and from a state-by-state perspective.

The point here is that propane industry companies have valuable data to share in their conversations about propane’s important role in the economy – whether those conversations take place within a community or at the state or national levels.

“When people are talking about how big the industry is nationwide, the data is there,” says Tucker Perkins, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council, which commissions ICF for the report every three years.

Perkins says he often shares how 50 million American homes use propane in some capacity. Within that group, nearly 12 million households use it for space heating or water heating, and about 6 million depend on it for their primary space heating fuel.

“One of the questions that always comes up is how many people are employed in the industry,” Perkins says.

The U.S. retail propane industry employs about 44,000 people. The number grows to more than 57,000 full-time employees if you include upstream and midstream processes tied directly to odorized propane.

The report also highlights growth in some major categories of the odorized propane industry since the last report in 2015. This includes direct economic impact, total employee count and the ever-popular retail gallon sales figure (up from 8.32 billion gallons in 2015 to 9.3 billion in 2018). When the total numbers are tallied, odorized propane’s overall contribution to the U.S. GDP is estimated at $53.6 billion in 2018.

These numbers don’t begin to scratch the surface of the detailed, 130-page report, which also delves into propane’s use across market segments.

After a look at the national numbers, propane industry members should find the state-by-state capsules extremely beneficial. Each capsule shows the industry’s contribution to that state’s economy; propane production and gallon sales figures; employment numbers; and labor income.

“I love the state data,” Perkins says, “and I wish more propane marketers understood their own state’s data because it shows them [propane’s] market share in a state, helps a company begin to realize how they fit into a state, how their customer mix compares to the customer mix of the state.

“It’s a cool look.”

Download the report at, and have great propane conversations.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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