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Semper Survey Finds Rebound in Industry Outlook, Willingness to Hire

February 15, 2011
BOSTON—Feb. 15, 2011—Semper International, a leading placement firm for skilled help in the graphic arts and printing industry, announces that, according to its research, the printing industry may finally be starting its recovery from the economic downturn. Results of its most recent “Industry Insight” survey show a positive outlook and an increased willingness to hire among respondents

The most recent survey found:

• 73 percent of companies surveyed had a profitable Q4. This represents an increase of nearly 13 percentage points over the previous quarter.

• Looking at the first two weeks of Q1, current sales are stagnant compared to last quarter, likely an indication of the traditional January slowdown. The number of companies reporting a decrease in sales or no change remained approximately the same as last quarter.

• A mere 12.5 percent of the companies interviewed expected sales to decrease through the remainder of Q1, 2011. Last quarter, nearly 20 percent expected a sales decrease.

• The vast majority of respondents indicated that hiring levels will remain the same or increase. There was a marked increase in companies hiring.

• More than two-thirds of companies reported that healthcare is the labor cost component that increased the fastest last quarter—that percentage was nearly five times greater than those reporting base pay, the next component. Companies are taking steps to control costs, but healthcare has remained the fastest growing component of cost for the last four quarters.

• The greatest competitive threat to printers reported remains largely unchanged from last quarter. Technology (48 percent)—the fear of what competititors are doing and how a company may need to respond—is seen as the biggest threat, far exceeding supply costs (26 percent) and labor costs (19 percent).

• Print buyers place the greatest pricing pressure on offset printing (47 percent), but the pressure has eased somewhat from last quarter. Material cost pressures jumped 4 percentage points.

• Referrals (37 percent) and online searches (33 percent) seem to be the most popular ways to find employees. These methods continue to put pressure on traditional help wanted advertising, which continued its downward trend, dropping another 4 percentage points.

“The more people working, the more who can purchase goods and services (and pay mortgages), creating a positive feedback loop and faster, sustained growth,” notes Dave Regan, CEO Semper International. “Watch for some negative news about the slowdown at the end of 2010 coupled with the recent GDP contractions in the U.K. and Japan, that may cause some concern in a few weeks. Positive news is critical at this time to help build economic momentum.”

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