Traditionally, furniture factories have been located in Europe and North America. With the increased cost of labour in industrialized countries, more furniture production, which is labour intensive, has shifted to Far Eastern countries. It is likely that this movement will continue unless more automated equipment can be developed.
Most furniture manufacturers are small enterprises. For example, in the United States, approximately 86% of the factories in the wood furniture industry have fewer than 50 employees (EPA 1995); this is representative of the situation internationally.
The woodworking industry in the United States is responsible for manufacturing household, office, store, public building and restaurant furniture and fixtures. The woodworking industry falls under the US Bureau of the Census Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code 25 (equivalent to International SIC Code 33) and includes: wood household furniture, such as beds, tables, chairs and bookshelves; wood television and radio cabinets; wood office furniture, such as cabinets, chairs and desks; and wood office and store fixtures and partitions, such as bar fixtures, counters, lockers and shelves.
Because production lines for assembling furniture are costly, most manufacturers do not supply an exceptionally large range of items. Manufacturers may specialize in the product manufactured, the product group or the production process (EPA 1995).