Objectives Possible adverse economic impacts of sweetened drink taxes are a key concern for numerous stakeholders. This study examined changes in unemployment benefit claims filings in Philadelphia compared to its neighboring counties two years prior to and 14 months post implementation of a 1.5 cents per ounce excise tax on sugar- and artificially-sweetened beverages. Methods Data were obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. Interrupted time series analysis was used to determine if there was a change in new monthly unemployment claims filings post-tax implementation in Philadelphia compared to surrounding counties in supermarkets, select potentially affected industries, and in total claims filings across all industries combined. Results Results showed there were no statistically significant changes to unemployment claims in Philadelphia compared to neighboring counties for supermarkets (ß = -9.45, 95% CI = -98.11, 79.22), soft drink manufacturers (ß = -0.13, 95% CI = -9.13, 8.88), across other potentially affected industries (ß = 9.16, 95% CI = -488.29, 506.60), or across all industries (ß = -445.85, 95% CI = -4272.39, 3380.68) following implementation of the beverage tax. Unemployment declined similarly in Philadelphia compared to surrounding counties. Conclusions Public reports of increased unemployment within the first year following the implementation of the Philadelphia beverage tax are not supported by this analysis. Future work should examine employment outcomes and include longer follow-up periods.
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