Welcome to the WhatTheyThink data analysis section. As a service to the printing and publishing industries, WhatTheyThink provides access to economic, trend and other data that is valuable to industry executives for strategic planning and other purposes. This is also an excellent way for industry executives to stay current with the latest trends. This includes proprietary data developed by our own Dr. Joe Webb, Director of the WhatTheyThink economics and research center, as well as data from a variety of partner sources.
Data from the Economics & Research Center
Monthly Commercial Printing Shipments data series
Industry Snapshot collection of regularly updated industry data about various measures of business activity
Published: May 8, 2014
March 2013 US commercial printing shipments were down -$148 million (-2.2%) compared to 2012. The first quarter was down -$770 billion (-4%). On an inflation-adjusted basis, shipments were down -$270 million (-5.4%) and down -$1.05 billion (-5.4%) for the quarter.
Published: May 8, 2014
The recovery indicators rebounded since last month. New orders for manufacturers remained at the same level that indicates growth.
Published: May 7, 2014
Printing employment in April rose by 1,000 workers. It is always hard to determine if these were actual workers or if the changes were the result of issues with the estimation models of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Production workers were the greatest part of the increase (800).
Published: April 23, 2014
Circulation revenue for U.S. newspapers recorded a second consecutive year of growth, rising 3.7% to $10.87 billion in 2013 according to figures released by the Newspaper Association of America. Total revenue was $37.59 billion in 2013, a loss of 2.6 percent over 2012.
Published: April 23, 2014
Below is the latest set of multipliers based on the Consumer Price Index. Multiply your historical financial statements by the figures below to adjust data to the CPI for the first quarter of this year.
Published: April 18, 2014
For the year, profits were $4.34 billion. On an inflation-adjusted basis, that was the highest level of industry profits since 2007. This is despite there being $28 billion less printing shipments, 8,000 fewer printing establishments, and 73,000 fewer employees. It was the best profits per establishment ($173,000) since 2000.
Published: April 17, 2014
Profits per employee increased to higher levels since 2000. Industry consolidation is a big factor in this report. It is not just mergers and acquisitions, but also plant closures and bankruptcies, and the opening of new businesses that absorb the best and most appropriate resources of the closed plants, and also the strategic changes that surviving companies make as they respond and anticipate marketplace changes, absorbing the sales volume of departed competitors.
Published: April 10, 2014
One of the measures of the health of the labor market is the comparison of the total population to civilian employment. This measure has yet to approach levels achieved prior to the recession. This measure is important because it follows the growth in population. The number of workers is now nearly what it was at the start of the recession, but population has grown about 6% since that time. In rough terms, this means that the economy is short about 5.6 million jobs.
Published: April 7, 2014
Published: March 16, 2014
Since the second quarter of 2007, the first quarter for which we can create four-quarter inflation-adjusted moving totals, ad agency revenues are up more than 13%. Publishing industries have note fared well at all.
Published: February 7, 2014
The major news in the data update is that employment in advertising agencies surpassed that of the printing industry in July 2013. For 2013, printing employment was down by -12,600 (-2.8%). The biggest change was in employees outside of production who were -8,400 of that decline (-5.7%). Graphic design employment was down slightly for the year, but these data do not include freelancers, which are an essential part of that business. Inside the advertising agency employment data are public relations employees, the main area of employment growth in this sector.
Published: February 4, 2014
The Department of Commerce released December 2013 and revised November data. December shipments were $6.271B (-3.7% vs. Dec. 2012). On a current dollar basis, the total for the year was $77.6B, -3.8%. After adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, shipments were down -5.1%. The chart below shows current dollar and inflation-adjusted shipments starting with 2007
Published: February 4, 2014
Published: January 14, 2014
This chart shows the inflation-adjusted revenue trends for selected content-creation businesses. Note how advertising revenues have increased despite the declines in the revenues to publishers. Agencies have shifted much of their efforts to developing “earned media” (a/k/a search engines, social media, e-marketing and numerous other digital formats), and the production of it.
Published: June 15, 2011
The first quarter of 2011 continued a welcome continuation of profitability for the industry. The industry shakeout of unprofitable businesses, and the better management of healthier businesses continues to create an improved bottom line, but there are still great challenges ahead. The restructuring of the industry will be a continuing process in 2011 and beyond.
Published: June 9, 2011
April 2011 commercial printing shipments were $7.08 billion, down -$109 million (-1.5%) compared to 2010. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were down -$366 million (-4.5%).
Published: May 6, 2011
March printing shipments were up, resulting in 12 consecutive months of increase. Dr. Webb explains how the easy comparisons to the prior year are about to end, and that the balance of 2011 will be about the same as 2010. He reviews the upcoming data revisions from the Commerce Department on May 13, the importance of inflation adjusting company financial data, and the shipment rates of Canada's commercial printing industry.
Published: April 6, 2011
Dr. Joe Webb has compiled reports on US commercial printing profits going back to 1995, and brings it all current to Q4 2010. This report examines the latest trends in shipments, profits and capacity for the industry, of which the Federal Reserve just made revisions going back almost 25 years. How does Joe recommend printers steer the course? What will it take to get the print industry out of the hole? Dr. Webb has insights that can help.
Published: April 5, 2011
Dr. Webb looks at February's shipments, Canada's January shipments, and updated forecasts for the North American printing industry to 2017. There's an updated GDP Forecast model and commentary on why that model is not totally reliable for forecasting the print industry. Will the rest of 2011 be as positive as January and February? Dr. Joe discusses.
Published: March 10, 2011
Dr. Webb comments on what the forecasting models are projecting for shipments out to 2017. The podcast also includes an analysis of how the industry has changed between 2000 and 2009 based on the latest data from the Commerce Department.
Published: February 4, 2011
December 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.48 billion, up $347 million (+4.9%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +3.3%. This brought the year's shipments to $86.7 billion.
Published: January 19, 2011
November 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.48 billion, up $303 million (+4.2%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +4.2%. “This was a very encouraging month, and continues the consecutive gain in current dollar shipments for eight months,” explained Dr. Joe Webb, director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.
Published: December 14, 2010
The third quarter of 2010 continued a welcome continuation of profitability for the industry. It has had seven consecutive months of increased sales, but it's clear that the profits trend is increasing, but the long term sales trend is flat.
Published: December 6, 2010
October 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.61 billion, up $108 million (+1.4%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +0.3%.
Published: November 15, 2010
Even something that sounds bad, like the number of printing industry layoffs due to bankruptcy, can be good if they're declining. Dr. Joe explains the sharp decline in the last four quarters and why it's very good news.