Slip Sliding Away

By Andrew Paparozzi
In March 9, 2009

Unfortunately, that’s what most of us are probably feeling when we build up enough nerve to look at our
retirement funds. A similar feeling is also quite prevalent in the labor markets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Friday that the nation lost an additional 651,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in February, bringing the decline over the past six months to a staggering 3.3 million. Since nonfarm payrolls peaked in December 2007, job losses total 4.4 million. Based on separate BLS survey among households, the nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 8.1% in February up from 4.8% just one year ago and the highest rate since December 1983.

Unlike the overall economy, employment in the printing industry has been declining steadily since 1998. But very much like the overall economy, the decline has recently accelerated sharply. For the first two months of the year, industry employment is down 9.0%
from the similar period a year ago—triple the decline experienced at that time. At 10.6%, the drop among production workers was even steeper and more than four times that of a year ago. Furthermore, at just above 37.0, average weekly hours so far this year are even below levels the industry experienced during its deep recession in 2002.

These data clearly reflect a continuing sharp falloff in printing business activity. As shown in the recently released NAPL Printing Business Conditions: February 2009, sales (from all sources) for the commercial printing industry were down 9.3% in the final quarter of 2008—the steepest for any three months in the over 20 years NAPL has been tracking the industry. Based on the employment data above, the start to 2009 doesn’t appear to be much better. But as mentioned in the report, while meaningful improvement isn’t likely until sometime in 2010, sitting on the sidelines until then may not be as safe as it seems.

Andrew Paparozzi                 Joseph Vincenzino                        Kong
Lue Wang

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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