A Look at (Un)Employment in the Publishing Industries

November 12th, 2009

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the long-time leading economists focused on the printing industry. In his column today on WhatTheyThink? (membership may be required) he looks at the employment drop in the printing industry, but offers a charts the reveals comparisons to other publishing sectors.


Only newspapers and direct mail advertising are dropping staff faster than printing companies.

Dr. Joe (as he’s known) relates these figures to the official U.S. unemployment numbers released this week: 10.2%, but 17.5% once underemployed workers and those who’ve given up the search are included (which surely they should be).

Of course these numbers show YTR changes in the number employed and so can’t be compared to unemployment figures per se. And it’s difficult to make easy comparisons to the total unemployed. While the seasonally-adjusted total number of unemployed American has increased by over 50% YTR (to over 15.7 million), the unemployment rate has increased from 6.6% to 10.2%.

The most relevant figure is that the number of Americans employed in October 2009 was 4.4% fewer than in October 2008 (again on a seasonally-adjusted basis). Only ad agencies match that percentage decline. The others all exceed it, in the case of newspaper workers, by some 320%!

Another indicator that ink-on-paper publishing’s decline far exceeds the indicators for the challenges to the U.S. economy as a whole.