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Employment and Wages in the American Furniture Industry

Total employment in the American furniture industry (household and office segments) stood at 557,000 persons in 2006. Employment in all of manufacturing totaled 14.2 million persons. Thus, the furniture industry accounts for only 3.9% of the manufacturing total, and only 0.4% of the 137 million people in total with jobs in the United States in 2006.

During the past two decades and up to the beginning of this century, furniture employment has been on the rise, a claim that cannot be made by manufacturers in general. However, starting in 2001, furniture employment entered a declining phase. Between 1996 and 2006, the level of furniture industry employment fell by 7.7% while total manufacturing employment fell by 17.6%. The reason for this phenomenon lies in the fact that the furniture industry lends itself less to labor-saving technologies than other industries.

Kitchen cabinet, household and institutional furniture manufacturers employed 66.2% of the people in the overall furniture and fixtures industry. The remaining 33.8%, are employed by office and other furniture manufacturers. Though it still commands the greater share today, kitchen cabinet, household and institutional furniture manufacturers witnessed a gradual erosion in their share of total furniture and fixtures industry employment over the last two decades.

The non-production worker share varies widely across the various furniture segments. The non-production share is generally higher within the office group (28%) compared to the household group (21%). Since office furniture is frequently distributed directly by the manufacturers, more marketing and design staff must be retained by office furniture manufacturers.

Production worker employment in the manufacture of furniture and fixtures has declined more rapidly than that of non-production workers. In 1996 salaried and commissioned workers accounted for only 20.9% of total employment in this industry but that share gradually increased to exceed 22.4% at the present time. The long-term increase in the share of non-production employees reflects both the introduction of labor-saving technology (which has reduced the relative need for production workers) and the increasingly complex business environment (which requires more marketing and administrative workers to move furniture products from the plant to the final consumer).

Stefan Wille
AKTRIN Furniture Information Center
Web: Employment and Wages in the American Furniture Industry

Source: www.articlesbase.com