Business Administration and Management

Business Administration and Management

Industry Outlook

Business is such a broad category, it is difficult to project growth for this field as a whole. It is entirely possible, and even common, for one industry to suffer slow growth or decline while another industry thrives. There are certain trends, however, that affect business as a whole.

Almost all businesses are affected by changes in the economy. When the economy is thriving, consumers have more money to spend, which means that they buy more products and services. When the economy suffers a downturn, however, virtually all businesses suffer along with it, as consumers cut back on spending. During economically unsound periods, many companies lay off or terminate employees in order to stay afloat.

The 2007–2009 economic recession took a huge toll on the U.S. economy and almost every industry. The recession affected the business world with deep salary cuts, massive employment layoffs, and a halt in job growth. While recovery was slow, conditions had improved significantly by the late 2010s. With low unemployment and healthy discretionary spending, the U.S. economy was on strong footing. However, the nation's gross domestic product growth rate was expected to fall from 3.0 percent in 2018 to 2.1 percent in 2019, according to Federal Open Market Committee figures cited by the balance. This decline would continue through the early part of the new decade, reaching 1.8 percent in 2021. The United States' trade war with China, which had caused a slowdown in job growth by August 2019, was a contributing factor in the projections. A resolution to the trade conflict between China and the U.S. could alter this direction.

Overall, the Department of Labor expects that employment in all management positions will achieve faster than average growth between 2018 and 2028. Employment will rise 7 percent, creating 706,900 new jobs. As existing organizations expand and new ones are created, the demand for capable managers will rise accordingly. Job growth for financial managers, who are usually responsible for directing a firm's investment activities and setting short- and long-term financial goals, will grow 16 percent, or much faster than the average. Administrative service managers, whose responsibilities may include facilities management and emergency preparedness, and construction managers, who supervise building projects from start to finish, should experience growth of 7 percent and 10 percent, respectively, which is faster than the average. Finally, top executives, who generally hold stressful, competitive positions, will see employment increase 6 percent, or as fast as the average.

From 2017 to 2018, the number of franchises was expected to increase 1.9 percent, reaching 759,236, according to an International Franchise Association (IFA) forecast. Employment was projected to rise 3.7 percent, to 8.17 million. The collective output of franchises would reach $757.2 billion, reflecting an annual increase of 6.2 percent. For 2018, the IFA anticipated that growth would occur in all 10 areas of franchising:

  1. automotive
  2. business services
  3. commercial and residential services
  4. lodging
  5. personal services
  6. quick service restaurants
  7. real estate
  8. retail food
  9. retail products and services
  10. table/full-service restaurants.

However, growth ranged from a low of 3.6 percent for the retail food category to a high of 7.3 percent for quick service restaurants. Strong performance also was expected for table/full-service restaurants (7.2%) and personal services (7.0%).

Another trend that will affect many, if not most, businesses is that of increased use of technology. As every industry becomes more automated, workers who have technological skills become ever more important, and technology-related industries will continue to be an area of rapid expansion. It is becoming increasingly difficult for workers in almost every position to survive in the modern business world without basic computer literacy. In addition, as artificial intelligence and computers continue to cut down on human work, some jobs may be eliminated or combined to reduce costs.

Technology will continue to influence the way business is done in other ways as well. There is likely to be a continuation of the increased use of online commerce via the Internet. Telecommuting and entrepreneurial home-based businesses, too, are expected to continue to increase due to technological advances and the ease of communication between computers.

Recent years have seen some changes in the corporate structure, which may continue. In the last decade, many companies have cut positions in an effort to reduce costs and enhance organizational efficiency. Called downsizing, this trend has the largest effect on middle-management workers, but also creates increased workloads for remaining employees who must take on the duties and responsibilities that were previously handled by workers whose jobs have been eliminated. Another troubling trend for U.S. workers is the practice of outsourcing jobs to other countries, as technology, globalization, and political influence allow corporations to employ workers outside this country for significantly less money than American workers would be paid. This trend has especially affected workers in manufacturing, but increasingly affects those in other businesses as well.

Professionals working in business administration and management faced many economic and logistical challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses with already slim profit margins were especially susceptible to abrupt changes in consumer behavior and business operations. Many such businesses, especially those dependent on crowded, in-person services, such as restaurants or arts and entertainment venues, may not reopen. Those that continue and reopen will do so with an emphasis on investment in technology and safety of staff and customers. For business confined largely to office environments, remote working via the Internet, meetings on Google Meets, Zoom, and other platforms, and an increased reliance on technology enabled them to continue with little interruption of their work.

The Small Business Administration forecasts that in 2021, businesses will be focusing more than ever on e-commerce, which had been growing in the years leading up to the pandemic. Other trends that the SBA foresees for 2021 and the near future is the proliferation of alternative payment options, such as contactless credit and debit cards or mobile payments, as well as the continuation of online payments and curbside payments. Remote work will continue to be offered to part-time and full-time employees, which means businesses will also be investing in more technology and software solutions for teleworkers. The SBA also noted that, as reported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the pandemic triggered growth in businesses that offer virtual services, including cybersecurity, at-home fitness, food delivery, gaming, home improvement, and telemedicine businesses. These types of businesses are expected to continue being in demand.