A Good Sign for Print Volume?
Key content creation markets employment is up compared to 2005. The latest The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports show these changes in the number of employees for June 2006 compared to last year.
Graphic design employees, +3.8%
Graphic design, production employees only, +7.9%
Advertising agencies employees, +2.6%
Public relations employees, +5.9%
What does this mean? While print’s summer is traditionally slow, the season’s dog days are usually quite busy for design and advertising shops as they work on communication programs for the Fall, especially for retailers. The recent increase in current dollar commercial printing shipments for May and June correspond with these rises, as they usually do. This implies that content creation is up.
Especially interesting is the nearly +8% rise in graphic design production employees. This, suggests a positive indicator for the rest of the year. But, there’s a catch. There is a media shift that is still going on, and many of these jobs are directed toward the production of non-print media. Nonetheless, these give us a reason for guarded optimism about print volumes in the short term. Not that they will increase, but that the steep declines of last year may be behind us. The last time that the number of graphic design production workers was this high was December 2001; the data do not include freelance designers.
In June 2001, the number of graphic design production employees was 62,300, according to the BLS. A year later, it dropped to 51,600 and stayed in that range for the next two years. In 2005, it went up to 53,000, which historically would have been a sign that the printing market would improve. Unfortunately, it was a false signal. This year, it’s up to 57,200, and is twice the rate of real economic growth. Therefore, we have cautious optimism for print in case we get statistically snookered again.