No Sign of Spring

By Andrew Paparozzi
In March 11, 2008

Are business indicators for print pointing to any hopeful signs? Unfortunately, not quite yet. NAPL estimates that on a 6-month moving average basis year-over-year sales (from all sources) for the commercial printing industry were up just 2.3% in January 2008. This is slowest gain since August 2005. Data show that the industry continued to cut both jobs and hours aggressively in January.

Based on the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, NAPL estimates that employment in the commercial printing industry fell by 5,700 during the 12-month period ended January 2008. The bulk (5,100) represented production employees. At 38.4, average weekly hours (including overtime) for production employees are at their lowest level since July 2005. While lower employment in our industry reflects an ongoing trend of technology and productivity gains—doing more with fewer employees—no doubt recent cuts also reflect the slowdown in business conditions.

The challenging business situation is quite apparent from NAPL’s Printing Business Panel. In February, almost half of the Panel responded that current business conditions were slowing; only a quarter indicated some improvement. And slowing sales isn’t our only problem. Margins continue to be squeezed. Over 38% of the Panel indicated that profitability was decreasing, while only 25.8% of the Panel pointed to rising profitability. Moving forward in this environment will require more than cutting employment and hours.

Joseph V. Vincenzino

Andrew Paparozzi

Epicomm's Andrew Paparozzi, Vice President/Chief Economist, is well-known for his accurate and thoughtful discussions on the economy and US commercial printing industry. A foremost author and speaker on economic business trends in the printing industry, Paparozzi heads Epicomm's Printing Economic Research Center.

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