Massage Therapy Industry Trends Difficult to Predict (Part I)

Last week I wrote a somewhat disparaging entry about the Massage Therapy Journal, and how it made a claim (that workplace massage is increasing) and then failed to back it up. After examining the AMTA Consumer Survey Fact Sheets from 2005 to 2010 (click here) and the 2009 and 2005 Massage Industry Fact Sheets, I now realize that general trends in the massage therapy industry are definitely hard to spot; determining whether specific trends are emerging, such as an increase in workplace massage, is even harder yet. But some general trends can be seen.

First, the good news: the massage therapy industry has grown from a $6 to $11 billion industry in 2005 to a $16 to $20 billion industry in 2009. Furthermore, in 2005 it was estimated that there were 250,000 to 300,000 massage therapists and students in the United States, while in 2008, it was estimated that there were 265,000 to 300,000 such therapists. So that means there’s a larger slice of the pie for practicing therapists, as the amount of money in the industry has increased much faster, on average, than the number of therapists.

However, the cause(s) of the dramatic increase in the size of the massage therapy industry still largely remain(s) a mystery. While it’s tempting to think that more businesses are starting to hire therapists to provide workplace massage, there aren’t data to support that. In fact, the only hard piece of evidence provided in the AMTA fact sheets and surveys about workplace massage came in 2005 when the AMTA reported that 18 percent of corporations with 500+ employees provided massage therapy to their employees, compared to only 11 percent of all businesses surveyed.

While the 2005 fact sheet also provides compelling reasons why massage therapy in the workplace is a good idea, further analysis of industry trends and customer surveys don’t seem to point to an increase in workplace massage, as I’ll write about next week.

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