The Commercial Printing Industry: More Productive and More Diverse

By Andrew Paparozzi
In November 4, 2010

In conventional terms, our industry is shrinking. Since 2000 sales are down 22.7%, employment is down 37.7%, and we’ve lost nearly 7,200 establishments, a 20.5% decline.

But 10 years ago we needed 730,300 employees to create $101.0 billion of sales. Today we create $78.1 billion in sales with 455,000 employees—a nearly 24.7% increase in sales per employee.

And consider that in 2000 over 85.0% of our revenue came from lithography and the associated preparatory and finishing services. Now nearly 40.0% comes from services such as variable-content digital printing, database management, mailing, fulfillment, and Web support.

We’re getting involved in our clients’ work earlier, staying involved longer, and satisfying a broader range of their communications needs. That doesn’t sound like a dying industry. It sounds like an industry that offers historic opportunity—just not in the same old places or by doing the same old things. And certainly not by waiting for the economy to make everything right. We’ll talk much more about both those points in the State of the Industry Report we’ll be publishing soon.


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.


  1. We are in a flat to slowly declining business if you count only print. Over the last 15 years we have gotten into Promotional Products, Fulfillment, Mailing. Key is to find complimentary needs of markets.

  2. Thank you for commenting on our post.
    You are absolutely correct. The need for diversification is clearly evident in our industry, but it is also critical to consider how diversification will affect our current offerings. NAPL has long emphasized, to add without integrating can be just as bad as not adding at all. We hope you find our material useful, and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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