HIGH POINT, NC - New orders for residential furniture increased 3 percent in April compared to a year earlier, according to the latest survey of manufacturers and distributors by High Point accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard. Overall, 68 percent of those reporting in this latest survey said they had increased their orders.

Shipments for April were up 5 percent compared to last year's figures, with 68 percent of participants indicating growth. "Last year through April, shipments were up 6 percent so this year is looking pretty good so far," said Ken Smith, managing partner at Smith Leonard.

Year-to-date shipments were up 7 percent compared to 2014. Backlogs were also up 7 percent over April 2014 figures, but down slightly from March's figure, according to the latest issue of Furniture Insights, a monthly publication of Smith Leonard.

"Our survey continues to show good improvement in business. Summer slowdowns sometimes makes us a bit uneasy, but overall we think business should remain steady with decent growth for the rest of the year," Smith added.

Although there was a 3 percent gain in factory and warehouse employees, "Most of the complaints we are now hearing, especially from domestic manufacturers, relates to lack of ability to hire enough people," Smith noted. "This appears to be true, not only in the furniture business, but other industries as well. And a common quote is not just finding people who want a job, but finding people who actually want to 'work' for a job."

The survey did show a rise of 5 percent in payrolls  over April 2014, and 5 percent year-to-date, which continues to be in line with current business, the report stated.

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