Employment of slaughterers and meat packers is expected to grow by 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. An expanding population and international trade will create demand for meat and related products.
As the meat-processing industry becomes more integrated, production processes are becoming more streamlined. The ability of processing facilities to employ slaughterers and meat packers should remain strong because of reduced costs in other areas of the industry.
Most food-manufacturing plants require slaughterers and meat packers to clean, salt, and cut beef quarters and large portions into tenders and chucks to prepare them for retail sale.
Retailers and grocers increasingly prefer prepackaged meat and poultry products because they can be easily displayed and sold without the need of a butcher.
A growing global population and increasing wealth among developing countries should cause demand for meat and poultry to increase worldwide. Compared to food products from other countries, U.S.-made food products are produced under very high quality and safety standards. As a result, exports of U.S. meat and poultry products face few extra quality and safety regulations when imported by other countries.
The animal slaughtering and processing industry is continuing to consolidate. Most jobs are in areas where there are large processing facilities. The majority of large meat-packing plants are located in the Midwestern and High Plains regions of the country. The five states with the largest number of slaughterers and meat packers are Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Processing facilities tend to be in rural areas or near smaller cities.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition