From Home Furnishing Business
Do Election Years Spur Industry Growth?
Is an election year partly responsible for a healthy economy? Are furniture sales higher and unemployment rates lower? Looking back over the past 20 years and the elections those years encompassed yields interesting results. With the exception of the Great Recession in 2008, a possible heightened sense of confidence and hope for the future during election years may partly be responsible for higher furniture sales growth, consumer confidence, gross domestic product and lower unemployment rates.
In presidential elections over the last 20 years since 1997, the last year of each term with one exception, has produced the highest furniture industry sales growth of all four years of that presidency. The one exception was the second term of George W. Bush which ended during the Great Recession. The last year of each term is also the Election Year for next term, as the nation is experiencing now in 2016. If the pattern continues, 2016 should grow in excess of the 5.3% furniture sales growth of last year.
Table A shows the furniture industry growth by year over 20 years encompassing five presidential terms, including the current 2016 election. Note that the industry’s highest growth was in the last years of Bill Clinton’s second term and George Bush’s first term.
Consumer Confidence was highest during the Clinton years – topping out at 139 during his last year in office (an election year). Taking a big dip post 9/11, Consumer Confidence dropped to 80 in 2003 before climbing back up to 96 during George W. Bush’s last year of his final term. During the Great Recession, Consumer Confidence hit its lowest at 45 during Barack Obama’s first term but grew 22 percentage points to 67 in the Election Year of 2012. Consumer Confidence has continued to grow over Barack Obama’s second term, but at 95 in March 2016, it is still below the 1985 base of 100.
Gross Domestic Product
The Gross Domestic Product or GDP is defined as the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. As Table C shows, the GDP has made its largest gains during election years with the exception of the Great Recession. In both Bill Clinton’s 2nd term and George W. Bush’s 1st term, the value of U.S. goods and services increased by more than 6.5 percent from the previous year. It remains to be seen whether 2016 will follow the same trajectory.
Like the highs in Consumer Confidence, the Unemployment Rate was at its lowest during the Bill Clinton years (Table D). The Great Recession caused the unemployment rate to skyrocket near 10 percent, but by the election year of 2012, the rate has decreased to 8.1 percent and continues to fall almost a percentage point each year. Currently at 4.9, the Unemployment Rate looks to be continuing the trend of other election years with the lowest unemployment of the presidential term.
Election Year vs. the First Year in Office
While the majority of election years in recent times have ended on a positive economic note for the furniture industry, did the momentum carry over to the first year of a president’s new term? The continued upswing did occur in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but since the turn of the century, furniture industry growth during a president’s first year in office did not surpass the election year preceding it.
Table E shows that in the 80s and 90s, with the exception of Ronald Reagan’s second term, the first year of a president’s four-year term experienced higher furniture industry growth than the previous election year.
Unlike the 80’s and 90’s, in recent elections (Table F), the economic momentum of the election year did not carry over to the first year of a presidency. No president’s first year of the term exceeded the previous election year’s growth. If this trend continues into 2017, the Furniture Industry will not experience quite the growth of 2016.
With America facing what pundits are calling a polarizing election year, the hope is that the U.S. economy will follow tradition and industry growth will continue and consumer confidence grow.n