Maid Service among the First Things to Go in a Recession

by Marcus Pickett

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Maid service is one of the first things to go during a recession and tends to closely follow a rise in unemployment. Not only do many consider maid service a luxury and many homeowners have less expendable cash, but it becomes absurd to hire a maid when someone finds themselves spending half the day watching television. HomeAdvisor, an online resource linking homeowners with local contractors, saw a 12.7 percent drop in maid service requests during the month of October.

How the Economy and Maid Service Interact
Maid services are mistakenly thought by many market experts to be as close to recession-proof as it gets. None other than the U.S. Department of Labor has projected that cleaning services will be among the top two areas for job growth over the next decade. The confusion in the conflicting data lies in the distinction between cleaning services and maid service. Much of the projected growth of cleaning services comes from the commercial sector. Janitors, not maids, are the ones with unparalleled job security.

In particular, new maid service companies may have trouble getting on their feet against more established companies. Many small business ventures in the maid service industry use franchising techniques to create instant name recognition, but this in no way guarantees a cash cow investment. That said, there is evidence to suggest both in wide-angle market analysis and in the specific demand figures from HomeAdvisor that the perception of maid service as recession-resistant does help the industry recover more rapidly.

Supply and Demand: The Good News for Homeowners
As unemployment poises to hit 7 percent for the first time in 15 years, more and more people begin to look for jobs in any available sector. The recession-resistant perception and the minimal qualifications needed for maid service employment cause a sizable jump in the labor pool for both commercial and residential cleaning companies. This allows already established maid service companies to more aggressively market their services, increase their clientele base, and in some cases, lower prices for their services. If you've entertained the idea of hiring a maid service, but couldn't justify the expense, now is the time for homeowners to shop around for bargains.

States with Biggest Declines, Others Growing
Rhode Island has experienced the biggest drop in maid service with a 31.5 percent drop in maid service requests in just the past month. This comes as no surprise as the state has lost more than 15,000 jobs in the past year, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was projected to hit an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent in October—tied for Michigan with highest in the country. Other states to have registered large drops in maid service demand are Utah (29 percent), New Hampshire (23.7), Maryland (23.5 percent), and Arizona (22.2).

Meanwhile, other states—such as Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, and Louisiana—have actually experienced modest growth for maid service demand during the month of October. Although these states aren't exactly experiencing boom times, many are among the more resilient places to weather the current recession. Some increase in the demand for maid service can be explained by households who, needing to make ends meet, become dual-earner households.

Other Cleaning Services
As the recession continues to deepen, there is a good chance that other cleaning services will be affected, as homeowners see more and more of these services as luxuries. Window cleaning, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and lawn care service are generally more resilient to recessions than maid service, as many homeowners lack the mobility, equipment, and expertise to complete these maintenance projects. These services have traditionally shown strong five to 10 percent growth over the past few years, according to the data collected by HomeAdvisor. This year, these services have begun to show signs of leveling off as carpet cleaning seems to be the next service that threatens to go into its own marketplace recession.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.