Print – not a small industry

Frequently, even within the printing industry, I hear that print is a small industry. That is certainly true when looking at the single print shop or even at a range of commercial printers. Adding up the pieces there is no doubt however, that print is a not a small industry.

The printing industry, as it is defined by the official statistics, has about 631,000 employees in the EU including the UK according to Eurostat for 2018. This includes prepress and finishing. It does not include big parts of packaging print, in-house print, copy shops and print in marketing and direct mail agencies.

employees print industry
EU print industry sizing

Some of the packaging print is included in the manufacturing of paper and paper products. Close to 30% of the 673,500 employees in “Paper & paper products” fall into pulp and paper production: manufacturing paper, board or sanitary fibre materials. The reminder falls into manufacturing of paper products, which includes packaging materials.

As mentioned, not all print service providers are listed in the print industry data above. A smaller industry sector is copying and quick print. This still contributes about 50,000 employees. Print employees in in-house or data centre print do not have their own statistical classification unfortunately and or not represented in these numbers. Yet they would surely add another 100,000 to 200,000 employees.

But there is a lot more employment connected to print.

About 670,000 employees work in book, magazine, newspapers and journals publishing. Granted, not all publishing is printed any more, but the majority is. The retail side -books, newspapers and stationery stores – comprises another 220,000 employees, which are earning the livelihood on print.

Supplying the print industry is no small business either. About 80,000 employees work for printing equipment manufacturers, while printing ink manufacturing accounts for another 12,000. There would be more employees in manufacturing of other consumables, but those industries are not listed specifically.

Other major employment areas do rely at least partially on print. Graphic design and advertising do design and order a lot of print as well, but here the purely print related portion is smaller and that share is nowhere specified in detail. In distribution a good part of the postal services employment is driven by print, but again, specifying a portion would be tough (out of the 1.7 million employees in postal and courier services in Europe).

There are at least 2.3 million persons employed in print and related industries. An even bigger number of employees in other types of businesses is designing, preparing, handling or selling print, or are providing services for companies in the print & paper value chain or are involved in supplies for print production. It clearly shows that print is a not a small industry!

Sources: Eurostat, national statistical offices, VDMA, EUPIA

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