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Economics and Research

Welcome to the WhatTheyThink Economics & Research Center, where our Director, Dr. Joe Webb, collects, creates, and analyzes the economy, industry trends, and forecasts. Data are from many sources, including our own field research, and provide an overall view of the markets for content creation, print, publishing, digital media, and the factors that shape their future. The approach is often unconventional, and explores topics in ways executives need to ensure they have a richer view of their challenges and opportunities.

Our recent survey of U.S. commercial printers found great optimism, spotty cloud computing adoption, and rampant consolidation activities.

Printing Industry Data from the Economics & Research Center

Monthly Commercial Printing Shipments data series. View it here.

Industry Snapshot collection of regularly updated industry data about various measures of business activity. View it here.

Data Analysis from the Economics & Research Center

 

Printing Industry Shipments Revised from 2007 to 2016, with Minor Changes Since 2009

Printing Industry Shipments Revised from 2007 to 2016, with Minor Changes Since 2009

Published: May 19, 2016

The years 2008 through 2013 had slight revisions higher; the end of 2013 to present had slight revisions lower. The Commerce Department's revisions to all manufacturing data are leading up to a multi-year revision of GDP data at the end of July.

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Manufacturing Still in Contraction

Manufacturing Still in Contraction

Published: May 19, 2016

The latest Federal Reserve industrial production index showed a slowdown since late 2014 and an outright contraction since mid-2015 is still in process. The business press focused on the comparison to the prior month, which looked like an improvement. The chart, however, compares to the prior year. Recent consumer retail data have been more optimistic, and the premise that we had a “micro-recession” at the beginning of the first quarter seems to be justified. There is growing pressure to weaken the US dollar to make manufacturing exports less expensive to international customers. The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow estimate for Q2 GDP is now +2.5%. At that rate, it would be a rebound from Q1's +0.5%.

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Graphic Design Employment Up +6%, Agencies up +2.8%

Graphic Design Employment Up +6%, Agencies up +2.8%

Published: May 12, 2016

Content creation is in a strong uptrend based on the latest employment data. Graphic design employment is up +6%, and has taken over from public relations employment as the surging area of hiring.

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19 Consecutive Months of Improved US Commercial Printing Shipments

19 Consecutive Months of Improved US Commercial Printing Shipments

Published: May 5, 2016

US commercial printing shipments have increased compared to the prior year for 19 consecutive months. March 2016 shipments were up +$85 million (+1.1%) in current dollars compared to 2015, and +$22 million (+0.3%) after adjusting for inflation. February 2016 shipments were revised up by $2 million.

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Recovery Indicators Better than the Recent General Economic News

Recovery Indicators Better than the Recent General Economic News

Published: May 5, 2016

The recovery indicators are more positive than the general economic news. One of our indicators, the NASDAQ, is down -1.7% since last month. It's been on a rocky road for the last three quarters. Its recent peak was 5218.86 in July, and it has not gotten really close since. Stock market concerns have focused on a decline in the rate of corporate profits, and Apple's recent financial report did not really help matters. There was a bullish rise in non-manufacturing orders. Manufacturing new orders index might look like a decline, but it is still indicate moderate growth. Proprietors income, a measure of the health of small business, was up only slightly. Other reports of small business health have not been good, especially the recent NFIB Small Business report. This month's recovery indicators don't indicate recession, a word that is bandied about with greater frequency lately, but support the continuing unsatisfying levels of slow but positive growth.

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Q1-2016 GDP +0.5%; Inventory Correction Finally Arrives

Q1-2016 GDP +0.5%; Inventory Correction Finally Arrives

Published: April 29, 2016

US real GDP for Q1-2016 was reported at annual growth of only +0.5% compared to Q4-2015. On a year-to-year basis, the growth rate was +1.95%. The inventory adjustment that the economy has needed finally came, with the lowest net inventories in two years. Real GDP growth less inventories was +2.3% on a year-to-year basis.

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General Economic Data from the Fed

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