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  • Stephanie Nickell

Consumers buy U.S.-made to save jobs

The number one reason furniture shoppers buy American-made is to save jobs and help the economy. Eighty-two percent of consumers cited jobs and the economy as a reason they buy American-made furniture products.
     That's according to more than 2,000 furniture shoppers answering an online survey in January from Furniture/Today and Furniture-Dealer.net. The questions were posted on the American Home Furnishings Alliance website, find your furniture.com.
     Despite consumers' best intentions, the number of furniture manufacturing employees in the United States saw double digit declines in 2008 and 2009, with drops of 15% and 17% respectively, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
     Employment in the industry sector seemed to level off some in 2011, with a 1% decrease from the year prior. And in the last couple of years, furniture manufacturing employment in the U.S. has ticked up slightly, rising 0.5% in 2012 and 1.8% in 2013.
     In 2012, 66% of all upholstery was made in the U.S., while 37% of case goods were, per industry analyst Jerry Epperson.
    The key furniture manufacturing states of California, North Carolina and Mississippi have all seen large slumps in employment since 2004. In California, furniture manufacturing employment declined 50% from 62,200 in 2004 to 31,200 in 2013. In North Carolina, furniture manufacturing employment dropped 44%, from 58,900 in 2004 to 33,000 in 2013. And in Mississippi, furniture manufacturing employment fell 37% over the last 10 years.
     Across all generations, American jobs remain in the forefront of consumers' minds; however, research shows the younger the consumer, the less concerned they are about jobs and the economy when buying furniture.
     Adult Millennials, ages 18 to 33, are more likely than other generations to buy American-made because of manufacturing processes and safety standards, with 36% reporting that as the reason they buy U.S.-made furniture.
     Half of consumers think furniture made in the USA is of good quality, while 49% think it's a good value. As consumers continue to see U.S.-made furniture as quality furniture at a good value, and buy American-made furniture to boost employment in the sector, we may see employment figures continue to creep upwards in response.

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