Print Employment Down; Productivity Up

By Epicomm
In February 14, 2008

Is declining employment evidence of an industry in trouble? It certainly can be. But in our case, it is evidence of an industry that is getting a lot more productive.

Based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data, we estimate that total commercial printing employment fell to 475,500 last year, down 129,900, or 21.5%, from a peak of 605,400 in 1998. Over the same period, our production/nonsupervisory employment fell to 411,200 from 539,300, a decline of 128,100, or 23.8%.

Final numbers aren’t in yet. But total commercial printing industry sales (all sources, not just printing) will come in right around $89.4 billion for 2007, up 10.9% from $80.6 billion in 1998. That means our sales per employee has risen to $188,029 from $133,113 over the past nine years, a 41.3% gain!

We need more of that. As emphasized in the NAPL Organization Development and Compensation Study 2007, education and training—particularly cross-training—that builds a skilled, flexible, productive labor force that can be where we need them when we need them is key. So is prudent capital investment in automation. How are you building productivity? We welcome your comments.

Andrew D. Paparozzi

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