Aug. 10, 2022

What does a red hot jobs report mean for the furniture industry? Industry experts weigh in

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The employment situation for July 2022 is very robust, surprising analysts.

HIGH POINT — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just released its employment situation for July 2022 that beat analyst estimates. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose 528,000 in July, more than two times the 258,000 expected by Dow Jones estimates, and the unemployment rate was 3.5%, better than the 3.6% estimated by economists.

The unemployment rate is the best it’s been since February 2020 when it was at the lowest level since 1969, according to CNBC.

What does all this mean for the furniture industry? Furniture Today asked experts to weigh in on the surprising news.

Jerry Epperson, managing director, Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd.

I think that what we’re seeing is that, because of layoffs, people are realizing that this may not be an endless period of time for getting a job. They are going and getting a job. I’m just thinking that people are getting a little more anxious about job availability and will get them while they can. They are running out of money, or the benefits that they had are beginning to run out.

With the furniture industry, we went from starving for merchandise, then getting caught up a bit, but now there’s a consumer slowdown in buying.

Ken Smith, founding partner, assurance partner, Smith Leonard

The main thing I see from the release is that it might help consumer confidence some. Most seem to think that even if we are in a recession, it may be weak and short-lived.

While the industry has definitely slowed, the effect has been more towards the lower and lower-middle priced goods. So, if it is having an effect, hopefully we might get back to more normal times sooner

Bo Stump, partner, Stump & Company

It’s good news. There’s been so much negative news about layoffs in our industry and sales being down compared with 2021. The numbers are consistent with our thesis that demand is settling from the peaks during COVID and resetting back to normal.

Some of our clients think the worst may be behind us. With the stronger than expected jobs, we’re looking at this closely. New furniture sales are growing slowly- they were up in July by 5%. There is still somewhat of a muddled opinion, as people still have jobs and continue to spend on home furnishings.

Right now, there is a bit of a rotating carousel of folks being laid off and finding work elsewhere. Someone down the street lays off workers, and someone else then picks up these employees. We’re generally a little more optimistic than we were a couple of weeks ago, based on these figures.

Jean Marie Layton//Senior Editor for Upholstery•August 10, 2022

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