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Economics & Research Blog

Commercial Printing Shipments Disappoint; So Does ISM Manufacturing

November 2007 commercial printing shipments were released by the Department of Commerce this morning,

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: January 3, 2008

November 2007 commercial printing shipments were released by the Department of Commerce this morning, and were $9.032 billion. This was a +$121 million current dollar increase compared to 2006. This +1.4% increase is in line with the overall increase for the year.

The month was far less appealing on an inflation-adjusted basis, however. November was down -$263 million, or -2.8%. For the year, inflation-adjusted shipments are down -2.4%.

Assuming that December is in line with these trends, the year will end at $102 billion current dollars, as forecast.

We will release our Monthly Shipments report data shortly, with updated forecasts for 2008 through 2010 and inflation-adjusted history beginning with 2003.

We thought last month's ISM Manufacturing Index was bad, and December's was worse. Except for exports, there was nothing good about it at all. The index fell below the neutral level of 50, to 47.7, indicating manufacturing contraction, and is not likely to get better for a while. Experts on this index explain that getting below 42 would imply a general economic contraction because of the lift that the service sector (financial, real estate, construction) gives to balance any manufacturing shortfall. Gee, those service sectors I mentioned... they're not so hot lately.

Today's initial jobless claims kept the 4-week moving average in the range of 344,000, which implies slow growth in hiring. Friday gives us the latest unemployment report. We'll be keeping an eye on the household survey which is a much better economic indicator than payroll data. The ISM non-manufacturing index will also be released, and we expect it to be barely above 50.

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.



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