Every year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes an “Occupational Outlook Handbook” for nearly every profession in the United States. This year’s handbook provides some interesting insight on the health of the auto upholstery industry.
Before reviewing the following figures, keep in mind that (1) the bureau combines auto upholstery with general upholstery, which includes furniture; (2) the figures do not include self-employed upholsterers, which is a lot of us; and (3) the information is based on a 2015 survey.
For auto upholstery, the bureau finds:
- The industry employs 2,500 people
- The mean hourly wage is $17.43
- The mean annual wage is $36,260
For upholstery in general, the bureau finds:
- The industry employs 30,180 people
- The mean hourly wage is $16.13
- The mean annual wage is $33,550
- Projected number of new jobs between 2014-2024: -1,800 (decline)
- Projected growth rate 2014-2024: -4% (decline)
According to the bureau’s report, the category of upholstery is in decline. However, from the looks of it, that decline is more prominent on the furniture side, where the rise of cheap and disposable goods has reeked havoc on shops.
Also, the mean wages stated only represent shop employees. Auto upholsterers who are self employed earn an average of $55 per hour, according to a 2012 study by Hotrod & Restoration magazine.
Of course, auto upholstery shops aren’t out of the weeds. Our industry is small and, due to a range of factors including a shortage of training programs, is pretty stagnant, if not declining as well.
The question is: What are we going to do about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.