Commercial Printing Outlook : New Year, Similar Outlook

Looking ahead to 2012, it seems as 
 if the commercial printing industry, the country as a whole and even the global economy have been cast in a sequel to the Bill Murray movie that nobody wanted to see made—Groundhog Year. The first draft of the script for the coming year reads much like it did for the past two years:

• ongoing high unemployment rate—check;

• fallout from the banking crisis still causing high foreclosures rates and depressing the real estate market—check;

• gridlock in our nation’s capital as compromise is considered a dirty word by both parties—check; and

• Euro zone countries struggling with debt crises, keeping the global economy on edge—check.

If anything, the challenges that threaten printing industry growth, specifically, have intensified. The most notable is investment in tablets as a printing replacement by government agencies, schools at all grade levels and certain consumer sectors. The other is the attacks on printing, such as Do Not Mail efforts, in the misguided perception that printing is not sustainable, or at least less sustainable than digital alternatives.

There is, of course, the added wrinkle of 2012 being a presidential election year. With Washington approval ratings in the dumps, some hitting historic lows, politicians are under growing pressure to act on the jobs and economic front. However, judging by the collapse of the Super Committee, that motivation is still being out weighed by the need to not be seen as “caving in” to other side through any attempt at reaching a compromise.

Unlike Past Recessions

The recent course of the economy has been an anomaly, according to Dr. Ronnie H. Davis, vice president and chief economist at Printing Industries of America (PIA) in Sewickley, PA. Normally, the strength of the recovery correlates with the depth of the recession, but that hasn’t happened this time, 
Davis points out.

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