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Economics & Research Blog

How Printing is Performing Compared to Other Manufacturing Industries?


By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: September 4, 2007

Today's ISM Manufacturing Index showed yet more sideways movement in the manufacturing sector. The index came in at 52.9 for August, down from July's 53.8. Anything over 50 indicates a growing manufacturing sector. It is widely believed that the index can drop down to 42 before it would indicate negative GDP growth. Its inflation indicator, the prices paid for goods by manufacturing companies, was 63, which still indicates pricing pressures inside these companies. It's down from prior months, but it's been quite high for a long time, meaning that manufacturers have to find costs from productivity increases, or from pricing. Hiring among manufacturers improved. This probably means that this Friday's employment report will have no significant change, but may reflect some change on the service side as financial businesses have been cutting staff of late, though those reductions may not really show up until October once severance payments (if any) are depleted.

This brought up another issue... how is printing faring compared to other manufacturing industries. ISM doesn't track that, but the Commerce Department issues such a report every month. The report is in current dollars, so we included the CPI reading in the list; any industry above that is growing above inflation and is therefore having real growth. Only two manufacturing industries are growing faster than the overall economy. Print is actually performing better than most, at +1.5%. This year, 2007, is not particularly good for manufacturing at all.

Electrical equipment, appliances, and components +6.9%
Leather and allied products +6.9%
Primary metals +5.2%
Food products +4.6%
Beverage and tobacco products +4.4%
*CONSUMER PRICE INDEX (last 12 months) +2.4%
Miscellaneous durable goods +2.4%
Fabricated metal products +2%
Printing +1.5%
Machinery +.8%
Durable goods industries +0.1%
Computers and electronic products -0.2%
All manufacturing industries -0.6%
Transportation equipment -0.7%
Chemical products -1%
Nondurable goods industries -1.2%
Plastics and rubber products -1.5%
Paper products -1.9%
Nonmetallic mineral products -4.9%
Apparel -4.9%
Furniture and related products -5.5%
Textile products -7.6%
Petroleum and coal products -7.7%
Textile mills -8%
Wood products -13.7%

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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