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Public Relations Employment Strong, Printing Employment Trend Flattens

Employment might be down from last year in the printing industry,

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: December 9, 2014

Employment might be down from last year in the printing industry, but it has picked up slightly with the recent rise in shipments compared to 2013. It is not likely to be sustainable. There is still consolidation of the industry in process, and with remaining businesses absorbing the volumes of exited businesses. This means that there can be declines in total employment with flat real sales levels. The number that continues to jump off the chart is the increase in public relations employment and the overall increase in advertising-related employment. (click to enlarge) employment table 120914 As far as the national unemployment report, it was another one of those cases where you had to read down below the first paragraph and look at the data tables (perish the thought!) to find some very strange things going on. The press went ga-ga over the 321,000+ increase in payrolls, which is good, of course, but the core metrics of the labor market still has problems.

The household survey was up only 4,000 (yes, you read that right, 4k) and the labor participation rate was 62.8% -- last year it was 63.0%.

The household survey is important because it counts each worker only once, and includes workers who are self-employed. The payroll survey counts workers each time they have a job. So if someone has two part-time jobs, they are counted twice. The number of workers that are counted twice is very small, but there are concerns now that compliance with ACA hours limitations may increase the number of these workers.

The number of unemployed workers was up by 115,000 after slowly improving in recent months, and 69,000 people left the labor force. That means the "not in labor force" has moved from 91.3 million to 92.4 million in the last year. The good news is that the number of employees in part time work for slack business conditions went down.

The number of part time workers for noneconomic reasons went up by 235,000, breaking through the 20 million mark. The report ended up being just another in a continuing string of slow positive growth economic reports where things improve slightly but lack the momentum needed for a rampaging break to the upside from sluggish long term trends.

Total employment, especially after adjusting for population growth, has not reached levels prior to the recession, seven years later.

The unemployment rate will continue to improve in 2015 as employment grows and more workers leave the workforce. Don't be surprised if the unemployment rate drops as low as 5.2% or so by this time next year.

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

What do you think? Please send feedback to Dr. Joe by emailing him at drjoe@whattheythink.com.

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