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U.S. Office Furniture Industry Showing Signs of Continued Recovery

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The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association (BIFMA) International recently released office furniture shipment data for the first quarter of 2005. U.S. manufacturer's shipments increased 17% in the first quarter (as compared to the first quarter of 2004), from $1.96 billion to $2.29 billion, exceeding earlier expectations. The economic consulting organization, Global Insight, has also just released the latest industry forecast covering the rest of 2005 and 2006. Office furniture shipment growth is expected to continue, albeit at a somewhat slower rate. For the balance of calendar year 2005, quarterly growth is expected to range between 8 - 10%. On an annualized basis this should translate to a shipments value exceeding $9.9 billion and growth of about 11% as compared to calendar year 2004. The value of U.S. shipments was $8.9 billion in 2004, a 5% increase from 2003. Service sector (or white-collar) employment growth and increasing investment in new office building construction are the primary factors driving the expectations for furniture industry growth over the next 18 months. Global Insight anticipates a growth rate of about 7% for calendar year 2006, to a level of $10.68 billion. Established in 1973, BIFMA International is a not-for-profit trade association of furniture manufacturers and suppliers addressing issues of common concern.

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