Furniture

Workers & Wages

This section discusses the current status and historical trends in labor market conditions related to establishments, employment and wages within the North Carolina and U.S. furniture industry. This analysis primarily uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) based on our definition of the furniture industry. Links are provided to the underlying data in the form of interactive tables, charts and maps throughout this section.

Overview

North Carolina is the largest employer in furniture manufacturing, representing 9.5% of U.S. employment (T3c). It ranks fifth in the U.S. in terms of the overall number of furniture manufacturing establishments, with 5% of U.S. establishments in the furniture manufacturing industries (T2c). North Carolina is the leading state in the household furniture manufacturing segment with 12% of U.S. employment and nearly 5% of establishments in the segment (T3c; T2c). It ranks fifth in office furniture manufacturing, with 5.2% of U.S. employment and 5.6% of establishments. North Carolina ranks fourth in furniture-related products manufacturing (mattresses & blinds), with 6% of U.S. employment and 4.4% of establishments.

Employment in North Carolina’s furniture industry has declined steadily since 1992, with total employment declining 56% since 1992 (T3a; C3a). Employment declined in the household and office furniture manufacturing segments and increased in furniture related products manufacturing and furniture merchant wholesalers. Employment in the household furniture segment has contracted by 61% over the last two decades from 64,528 workers in 1992 to 25,235 in 2012 (T3a; C3a). The pace of decline in household furniture manufacturing employment continues. Employment in the household furniture segment decreased 15% during the 1992-2002 period and 54% during the 2002-2012 period, illustrating that the pace of decline in the industry has increased. We expect the pace of declines to slow as the household furniture industry recovers from the 2008 recession and reconsiders its production location decisions.

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North Carolina
Present (2012)

Overall

  • In North Carolina there were 1,164 establishments and 35,601 workers employed across the furniture manufacturing and distribution segments of the furniture value chain (T2a; T3a).
  • The overall average annual wage is $39,338. The highest wages are in the furniture wholesalers ($46,084) and the lowest are in household furniture manufacturing ($33,070) (T4a; C4a). Wages for furniture related products manufacturing is nearly $10,000 more than household furniture manufacturing.
  • Geographically, the industry is concentrated in two main clusters. One cluster includes Guilford, Randolph, Davidson and Forsyth and the other area includes Catawba, Alexander, Caldwell and Burke counties (M2a; M3a). Distribution is centered in Guilford, Mecklenburg, and Wake Counties.

Main Segment

  • The main segment in North Carolina is the household furniture industry (NAICS 3371) which employed 25,235 workers in 668 establishments in 2012 (T2a; T3a).
  • Average annual wages in the household furniture segment were $33,070 (T4a; C4).
  • The largest concentration of establishments and employees in the household furniture industry is in the Piedmont Triad area, especially, Catawba, Guildford, Randolph, and Davidson counties (M2a; M3a).

Historical Trends (1992-2012; 2002-2012)

Overall

  • Employment has declined steadily since 1992, with total employment declining 56% since 1992 (T3a; C3a). Employment declined in the household and office furniture manufacturing segments and increased in furniture related products manufacturing and furniture merchant wholesalers.
  • The number of establishments declined at a slower rate (-20%) than employment over the 1992 - 2012 time frame (T2a; C2a).
  • Wages have increased over the last two decades in all segments by an average of 75% (T4a; C4a).
  • Declines in employment have been documented across the state. Davidson, Guildford, and Caldwell counties and the greater Greensboro-Winston-Salem- High Point area have been the most the most affected by layoffs (M8a).
  • The largest number of layoffs and closings occurred between 2001 and 2005 (C8a).

Main Segment

  • Employment in the household furniture segment has contracted by 61% over the last two decades from 64,528 workers in 1992 to 25,235 in 2012 (T3a; C3a).
  • The pace of decline in household furniture manufacturing employment increased in more recent years. Employment in the household furniture segment decreased 15% during the 1992-2002 period and 54% during the 2002-2012 period, illustrating that the pace of decline in the industry has increased in more recent years. We expect the pace of declines to slow as the household furniture industry recovers from the historic downturn in national housing starts resulting from the 2008 recession, and as the industry reconsiders its production location decisions.
  • The number of establishments in household furniture manufacturing decreased 35% since 1992, from 1,023 in 1992 to 668 in 2012. From 1992-2002 establishments in household furniture manufacturing decreased by 3%, while from 2002-2012 they decreased by 33%.

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United States
Present (2012)
  • In 2012, employment in the industry was 392,580 (of which 10.6% were in distributionrelated segments, up from 4.8% in 1992) (C3b). The largest of the three manufacturing categories, in terms of employment, is the household furniture manufacturing sector, which employed 217,729 workers in 2012 (T3b).
  • Overall, the distribution segment has the highest average salaries ($59,235) in the furniture industry (C2b; C3b). The lowest salaries are in the household furniture manufacturing segment at around $36K. Office furniture manufacturing has an average U.S. wage of $46,132 and furniture related products manufacturing has an average U.S. wage of $41,085. (C4b).
Historical Trends (1992-2012; 2002-2012)
  • The number of establishments in the U.S. furniture manufacturing and distribution industries decreased by 24.3% between 2002 and 2012 (T2b) and employment declined by 39.2% during the same time frame (T3b). From 1992-2012, the number of establishments in the distribution segment grew 14% from 3,824 to 4,349 in 2012 (C2b; C3b).
  • Wages have increased in all three furniture manufacturing sectors, with an average increase of 30.4% between 2002 and 2012 (T4b). Office and furniture related products manufacturing wages have increased more than household furniture manufacturing (C4b). Office furniture manufacturing increased wages since 2002 by 34% (compared to 27% in household furniture) and furniture related products manufacturing increased wages by 31% since 2002.

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Top U.S. States
Present (2012)

Overall

  • In terms of employment in furniture manufacturing, the top U.S. states are North Carolina, California, Texas, Indiana, and Michigan. (T2c; T3c). Within segments of the furniture manufacturing industry, North Carolina leads in household furniture manufacturing employment, Michigan leads in office furniture manufacturing employment, and Texas & California lead employment in furniture related products. California leads in furniture wholesale employment.
  • In terms of the number of furniture establishments, the top U.S. states are California, Florida, New York, Texas, and North Carolina. California has the greatest number of establishments across all furniture manufacturing and wholesale segments. Second to California is Florida in household furniture manufacturing and furniture related products and New York in office furniture manufacturing and distribution.

Main NC Segment

  • U.S. employment in the household furniture manufacturing segment is led by North Carolina (11.6%), California (9.2%), Mississippi (7.3%), Texas (6.4%), and Indiana (6.2%) (T3c).

Historical Trends (1992-2012; 2002-2012)

Overall

  • The states with the largest decreases in furniture employment between 1992 and 2012 were North Carolina (-44,802 employees or 56% decrease from 1992), California (-24,205/ -38%), Tennessee (-20,928/-69%), Virginia (-16,328/-62%), and Michigan (-15,217/-42%). States increasing employment in the furniture industry were Texas (2,661/12%), Wisconsin (1,757/13%), and South Dakota (813/80%) (T3c).
  • The states with the largest decreases in furniture employment between 2002 and 2012 were California (-36,378 or -47% from 2002 levels), North Carolina (- 32,352/-48%), Tennessee (-12,721/-58%), Michigan (-11,793/-36%), and Virginia (-11,496/-53%). The only state to add employment in the furniture industry since 2002 levels was South Dakota (151 employees or 9% from 2002 levels) (T3c).

Main NC Segment

  • Since 1992, North Carolina (-39,293 employees or -61% of the industry employment), California (-18,206/-48%), Tennessee (-16,538/-73%), Virginia (- 15,632/-68%), and Mississippi (-8,723/-36%) lost the most number of employees in the household furniture segment. Wisconsin (2,746/38%), South Dakota (788/78%), and Texas (679/5%) increased employment in the household furniture segment from 1992 – 2012 (T3c).
  • Since 2002, North Carolina, California, Tennessee, Virginia, and Mississippi lost the most number of jobs in the household furniture segment. Only South Dakota added jobs in the household furniture industry from 2002 levels by adding 157 jobs (T3c).

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NC in the U.S. Economy
Present (2012)
  • North Carolina is the largest employer in furniture manufacturing, representing 9.5% of U.S. employment (T3c). It ranks fifth in the U.S. in terms of the overall number of furniture manufacturing establishments, with 5% of U.S. establishments in the furniture manufacturing industries (T2c).
  • North Carolina ranks sixth in the U.S. in terms of the total number of furniture wholesale establishments, with 5.6%, and is the fourth largest employer, with 6.1% of U.S. employment in the furniture wholesale segment.
  • North Carolina is the leading state in the household furniture manufacturing segment with 12% of U.S. employment and nearly 5% of establishments in the segment (T3c; T2c). It ranks fifth in office furniture manufacturing, with 5.2% of U.S. employment and 5.6% of establishments. North Carolina ranks fourth in furniture related products manufacturing, with 6% of U.S. employment and 4.4% of establishments.
Historical Trends (1992-2012; 2002-2012)
  • From 1992-2012, employment in the furniture industry in North Carolina decreased from 80,403 to 35,601 employees. Its share in employment in the U.S furniture industry decreased from 13.1% to 9.5%. Within the household furniture segment, employment decreased from 64,528 to 25,235 employees, while its share in U.S. employment decreased from 17% to 11.6% (T3c).
  • From 2002-2012, North Carolina, employment in the furniture industry in North Carolina decreased from 67,953 to 35,601 employees. Its share in employment in the U.S furniture industry decreased from 11.9% to 9.2%. Within the household furniture segment, employment decreased from 55,125 to 25,235 employees, while its share in U.S. employment decreased from 13.8% to 11.6% (T3c).

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