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A mysterious US industry has been growing since the recession — psychic services

Source: John Stephen Dwyer/Wikimedia Commons

The US had a strong jobs report on Friday, with the Department of Labor noting the economy had added 287,000 jobs in June and 14.8 million jobs since February 2010.

One curious US industry has been growing along with the rest of the country’s economy: psychic services. While psychics’ business got hit by the recession, the industry been expanding steadily since 2010, according to an October report from IBISWorld, a publisher of business intelligence.

While you may have read your horoscope or even had your palm read, you might not think of fortune-telling as an “industry.” However, the IBISWorld report analyzes it as such and notes those in the industry — including people involved in palmistry, cartomancy, mediumship, aura readings and astrology — have about $2 billion in revenue a year. Roughly 85,000 people work in psychic services and make about $1.5 billion in total wages a year.

The IBISWorld report predicted the industry could do even better if the economy recovers more: “Improving economic conditions will continue to boost industry performance, as rising disposable income bolsters average customer spending on psychic services.”

So, who are the people who use these services?

The report notes that consumers who aren’t affiliated with a particular religion and those who are agnostic make up the majority of psychics’ customers. The increasing tendency of Americans not to affiliate with any particular religion bodes well for the world of psychics. As the report notes, “demand for industry services has grown in line with changing consumer beliefs.”

Psychics also include executives among their clients, at least according to a September report from Fortune’s Polina Marinova.

“I think people would be astounded at the amount of entrepreneurs that consult people like me,” astrologer Robert Ohotto told Fortune, which said his clients include high-level executives at Google. “Any entrepreneur that has been hugely successful either has a very well developed intuition of their own, or consults people who do.”

Of course, the psychic industry is not without its critics; in New York, several fortune tellers have even been convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to prison for scamming customers out of thousands of dollars. And in May, police arrested a 25-year-old New Jersey psychic who was accused of charging a customer $41,000 to remove an “unwanted spirit,” NJ.com reported.

Though the visit started with a $100 crystal ball reading, the psychic kept asking for more money, the customer told police. The client became suspicious and reported the situation to the police. The psychic was charged with theft by deception.

In response to scams, a number of cities have been introducing new regulations for psychics, the IBISWorld report notes: “An increasing number of regulations are attempting to limit fraud in the industry. Many cities require psychics to buy licenses to practice their services. Over the next five years, increased industry regulation could result in slightly heightened barriers to entry for psychics.”

There will probably always be a market for psychics, though.  It seems like a good number of Americans either believe in the power of fortune telling or need affirmation that their future looks just fine.

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