Market Watch

NAPL Issues Printing Business Conditions Update


NAPL Issues Printing Business Conditions Update

The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) has issued its March Printing Business Conditions Report, with all indicators signaling that the recession is over for print. The report cautions, however, that the pace of the recovery will be slowed until corporate profits and the ad budgets they support strengthen late in 2002. It also points out that given the way the printing industry is changing, not everyone will share in the recovery–even when it hits full speed.

NAPL’s Printing Business Conditions Special Update includes information on printing industry sales and profitability, as well as macroeconomic data for the national economy. The update is published six times a year by NAPL’s Printing Economic Research Center.

The NAPL Printing Business Index (PBI), the association’s comprehensive measure of printing industry activity, rose to 53.0 in March, up from 49.6 in February and 39.9 in January, marking the fifth consecutive month the number has risen and the first time since October 2000 that it stands above 50. A PBI reading above 50 signifies that more printers report business is picking up than report business is slowing down. Conversely, an index reading below 50 indicates the opposite position. The PBI is a measure of printing activity that includes critical factors such as current business conditions, expected future business conditions (confidence), work-on-hand, hiring plans and pretax profitability.

“How much an individual company participates in the upturn ahead will clearly depend on the client mix, and even more on how well the company prepares for the structural change that is redefining our industry,” said NAPL vice president and chief economist Andrew Paparozzi. “Our markets are changing. So are the kinds of services our clients expect, how we produce and deliver those services and our competition. That’s why, as we’ve emphasized all along, this wasn’t just another recession–and this isn’t just another recovery. We are a growth industry, and growth will accelerate considerably over the next 18 months. But this time, a rising tide isn’t going to lift all boats.”

PIA Survey Details Mixed Results for Printers

According to findings from The Printing Industries of America’s (PIA) Quarterly Market Survey, sponsored by Heidelberg, over the course of 2001 the printing industry downsized by approximately 1,700 plants and 60,000 employees. This trend has continued during the first quarter of 2002.

Approximately one in three firms indicate that they reduced their employee counts during the first quarter while 15 percent indicated that they added employees, according to the survey.

A look at firms hiring employees during the quarter shows that just over 43 percent of all firms added employees to payroll. At the same time, 48 percent of the respondents indicated that their firm decreased production and technical employees.

The top reasons for reductions in number of employees, according to the survey’s respondents, were layoffs from slow business, not replacing retirees and productivity improvements.

According to Dr. Ron Davis, PIA’s chief economist, “Some printers are already seeing a gradual positive trend with regards to their business. However, there are still more jobs being lost than created. While the national economy seems to be on an upswing, printers are at the tail end of that growth.”

For more information about the survey’s contents, contact Dr. Ron Davis at (703) 519-8102 or at