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Econ Focus Q4 2020

Jan. 14, 2021

Richmond Fed’s Econ Focus on How China Shrunk the NC Furniture Industry

North Carolina’s furniture manufacturing industry, a powerhouse throughout most of the 20th century, lost more than half of its jobs in just 10 years. Starting in 1999, with the signing of the U.S.-China Bilateral WTO Agreement, the state’s furniture makers faced intense competition from lower-cost furniture imported from China. The latest issue of the Richmond Fed’s Econ Focus magazine looks at the rise and sudden decline of a major regional industry — and its recent rebound.

Also in this issue:

  • Unpacking the meat industry. The COVID-19 pandemic hit meat processing facilities and led grocery stores to limit meat purchases. Changes in consumers’ preferences and in industry economics have made the meat supply more vulnerable — but it’s not clear that consumers would want to pay the cost of a more resilient supply chain.
  • What makes companies invest? Researchers have been studying how businesses decide to invest and how those decisions affect the economy.
  • Where did all the change go? One of the unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a disruption in the supply of coins to banks and stores. While there are still plenty of coins to go around, many of them aren’t circulating due to changes in business operations and consumer payments prompted by the virus. In response, the Fed convened a U.S. Coin Task Force to work on solutions.
  • The housing market and the pandemic. For the housing market, the coronavirus recession has been unusual: Demand for homes has been strong and price growth has remained solid.
  • Interview. Valerie Ramey of the University of California, San Diego on fiscal stimulus, why we don’t have more leisure time and what has changed for women in economics.
  • More. Coverage of other economic issues affecting the Fifth Federal Reserve District and the nation.


For a free subscription to Econ Focus, the economics magazine of the Richmond Fed, or for copies, call (800) 322-0565 or subscribe online. The articles also are available online.


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District — including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia — to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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Jim Strader (804) 697-8956 (804) 332-0207 (mobile)