Print Survey Reports Largest Profitability Drop in its History

Semper International, the leading placement firm for skilled help in the graphic arts and printing industry, announces that its print Industry Insight survey has seen a sharp decrease in profitability compared to last quarter.

Since February 2003, Semper International has provided a quarterly survey offering estimates of trends in the printing and graphics industries. To prevent bias, survey questions—both qualitative and quantitative—are designed by Semper corporate partner Cvent. Survey participants include more than 300 small, medium, and large printing companies; both clients and prospects of Semper International. Participants provide data on revenue and hiring as well as estimated outlooks on future trends. Data is requested from a random sample and is not screened. To preserve confidentiality, individual company information is not part of the tabulation.

“We've never seen such a large contraction in profitability from one quarter to the next. Combined with stagnating sales over the last two weeks, it's very troubling,” notes Dave Regan, CEO Semper International. “We're concerned about the high levels of unemployment taxes. Hiring will drive this recovery. If businesses don't have the money to hire then everyone suffers.”

The most recent survey indicates mixed business trends:

+ 51 percent of companies surveyed reported a profitable Q1. This represents a 28-point decrease over last quarter.

+ 13 percent of companies expect sales to decrease through the remainder of Q2, 2013 while 47 percent hope for an increase.

+ The vast majority of respondents indicated that hiring levels will remain the same. Compared to 5 percent of companies in the previous quarter, 11 percent are planning to reduce their staffs.

+ 45 percent of companies reported that healthcare is the labor cost component that increased the fastest last quarter. Thirteen percent cited base pay, the second largest component.

+ The greatest competitive threat to printers remains largely unchanged from last quarter. The current economy (53 percent) is the biggest threat, growing pressures from lower cost competitors (22 percent), and operating costs (12 percent).

+ Referrals (47 percent) continue to be the most popular way to find employees. Online ads (31 percent) rose in popularity this quarter.

+ Half of businesses with fewer than 50 employers, while 38 percent of businesses with more than 50 employees are not taking steps to prepare for the 2014 Obamacare mandates.

More information is available from the Semper International Web site at



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