About the WhatTheyThink Industry Snapshot
We regularly track five sets of data, which are indicated by the links at the bottom of the snapshot spreadsheet:
- US Printing Industry
- US Packaging Industry
- US Publishing-Creative Industries
- USPS Mail Trends
- Canada Printing Industry
Each spreadsheet has eight columns:
- New—This column has an “x” when the data has just been updated.
- Period—This column identifies the most recent update. Some data series are updated monthly (Jun 2019, e.g.) or quarterly (Q1 2019, e.g.).
- Unit—This column specifies what the data cited specifically are, such as a monetary unit like dollars (thousands or millions, US or Canadian), a unit of weight like pounds, a percentage, an index, or some other metric.
- Last—This column indicates the latest reading.
- Prior—This column indicates that the previous reading was, whether it was the previous month, quarter, or other period.
- Year Ago—This column indicates what the data reading was one year earlier.
- Change—This column indicates the percentage of change from a year ago.
- Next Release—This column indicates when the next update will be released.
In addition to the original data, this spreadsheet includes many of our analytical enhancements, such as inflation adjustment or annualized data. Here is a description of the data that are available in this Industry Snapshot.
This page includes current dollar monthly printing shipments, as well as our adjustment for inflation. These data originate from the Commerce Department's monthly M3 manufacturing shipments report. They are released five weeks after the close of each month and subject to revision in the next report.Capacity utilizationand industry capacityare reported by the Federal Reserve on a monthly basis, usually by mid-month. The four-quarter annualized printing profitsare calculated using the industry shipments data and ratios developed from the Commerce Department’s Quarterly Financial Report. This report is released in June, September, December, and February. Note that these data only include NAICS 323 (Printing and Related Support Activities).
(More detail on printing shipments can be found on our Monthly Commercial Printing Shipments page.)
The printing & related PPIis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is the special Producer Price Index for our industry. It indicates the overall changes in prices for which the industry sells its goods and services. The data are released monthly.
Printing & related employmentis also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we track the total workers and production workers, and we calculate the number of non-production workers, an indicator of sales, management, and administrative personnel. Because monthly employment data are published earlier than shipments data, they give a preview of what shipments are likely to be. Also, employment data is a good figure to use because it is not affected by inflation.
The Commerce Department publishes some very high-level data for the packaging industry. The packaging industry does not have many public data series, but we can provide current dollar monthly shipments, as well as our adjustment for inflation. As noted above, these data originate from the Commerce Department’s monthly M3 manufacturing shipments report. They are released five weeks after the close of each month and subject to revision in the next report. Note that these data only include NAICS 32221 (Paperboard Container Manufacturing).
Packagingemploymentis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we track the total workers and production workers, and we calculate the number of non-production workers, again, an indicator of sales, management, and administrative personnel. Note that these data only include NAICS 32611 (Plastics Packaging Materials, Film and Sheet).
The PPIis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is the special Producer Price Index for the packaging industry. It indicates the overall changes in prices for which the industry sells its goods and services. The data are released monthly. Note that these data only include NAICS 3222 (Converted Paper Product Mfg).
We track employmentfor All Publishing, as well as the sub-categories for Newspapers and Periodicals. We also track employment for Graphic Design, Advertising, and Public Relations. Data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and include all employees.
Revenue(what non-manufacturing industries call “value of shipments”) comes from the Quarterly Services Report and is updated quarterly.
USPS Mail Trends
Not everything printed by commercial printers is mailed, but these data from the United States Postal Service offer some great insights into what communicators are doing. We don’t track postal revenues, as we are much more interested in the number of piecesmailed (standard mail and periodicals) and their weight(first class, standard, and periodical) because these measures are not distorted by inflation effects.
Canada Printing Industry
Canada’s printing shipmentsdata are presented here along with capacity utilization. The data originate with Statistics Canada. We have adjusted the data for inflation using Canada’s Consumer Price Index, and also have data adjusted for the US-Canada exchange rate.