Sunday, May 10, 2009

Growth Industry Even in the Downturn: Funeral Business

If the recession has left you displaced from your job in the real estate or automobile industries, perhaps you can consider moving into an industry with growing demand: the funeral industry. An aging cohort of baby-boomers is fueling demands for final services, as the video below illustrates. And workers who have been dislocated by the downturn are finding new careers.

Which reminds me of an old joke my father used to tell me when we were out riding in the car. As we would pass a cemetery, he would remark, matter-of-factly, "You know, that's a very popular cemetery."

Then he'd turn to me, look me right in the eye, and grin as he quipped, "People are just dying to get in there."


  1. How can you say the economy helps the funeral business and feature Dignity Memorials,Service Corporation International? Their first quarter 2009 numbers are down ten's of millions of dollars.

  2. Thanks, yourfuneralguy! Well stated. I think your specific quibble might be with CNN's Fredricka Whitfield for including Dignity in the feature.

    I did read with great interest your excellent blog post about the "Coming Funeral Business Earthquake," ,

    and in my view the video is not inconsistent with points you raise there. For example, the video certainly addresses your first item, "The economy is causing folks to choose lower cost funeral options. Most Major news organizations have run a report on this."

    My only points as a humble economist--and with no specific expertise in or ties to the funeral industry, I would like to add--were these two:

    1. Talented displaced workers from industries that are already post-earthquate (e.g., realty, US autos) are landing open jobs in industries that remain standing for now.

    2. An aging US population guarantees an increase in the annual deaths of Americans. So demand for final care will unambiguously grow. The only question is what specific form the increased demand might take, given concerns you rightly point out (e.g., green, financial, etc.).