The U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs and accounts for $263 billion in spending, according to a new study released Feb. 17 by the Convention Industry Council (CIC).

The study, titled The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy, was conducted by PwC US, also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and quantifies the economic contributions made by the 1.8 million meetings, trade shows, conventions, incentive events and other meetings that take place across the country. The research was funded by an alliance of 14 organizations representing the collective meetings, travel and exhibitions industries including ASAE, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Destination Marketing Association International/Destination & Travel Foundation, Meeting Professionals International Foundation, Professional Convention Management Association/Education Foundation, and U.S. Travel Association.

“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 CIC. “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 other U.S. industries including broadcasting and communications (1.3 million), truck and rail transportation (1.5 million), and computer and electronic product manufacturing (1.1 million). The industry’s 1.7 million jobs generate $60 billion in labor income and support another 4.6 million workers including industry suppliers and those who rely on meeting output for sales and revenue.

ASAE is highlighting the study on www.thepowerofa.org and will incorporate the study’s key findings in materials for American Associations Day 2011, ASAE’s legislative fly in scheduled for March 29-30 in Washington, DC.

Details on the study can be found at www.MeetingsMeanBusiness.com.

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