We've long been fascinated by the growing number of small personal services firms. These are firms that provide life support services to increasingly harried, time-constrained and often affluent consumers.
This category includes traditional personal services like gardening, house cleaning and pool cleaning.
It also includes a growing number of newer professions like career coaches, college admission counselors, retirement counselors, massage therapists and dog walkers.
There are also a surprising number of kid-oriented small businesses that teach sports, music, arts, theater, and academics.
The chart on the right is from the Wall Street Journal's Why Hair Dressers are Secure: Their Jobs Can't Be Exported. The chart nicely illustrates the growth in personal services jobs.
According to the article the main reason the number of personal services jobs are growing relatively rapidly is they can't easily be automated or outsourced abroad.
While this is true, we think it only partially explains the growth of personal services. Other drivers include a growing number of affluent consumers and increasing amounts of time spent working.
As we point out in our article The Rise of High-End Personal Services, despite the Great Recession and tepid recovery the number of affluent Americans continues to increase. And unlike prior generations, today's affluent tend to work, and work long hours.
This means less time for personal tasks and a greater willingness to pay others to do them. Even high end travel agents are making a comeback as affluent consumers don't want to spend time on trip planning but also want to make sure they get the most out of their limited vacation time.
The affluent are also concerned about staying competitive and are worried their kids will not be as successful as they are. Because of this, they are willing to pay professional service providers like tutors and coaches to help.
We expect the personal services boom to continue. The affluent will continue to lack time and aging baby boomers will increase their use of outsourced personal services to help them age in place.