While plenty of industries have shrunk
over the last couple of years, few have been hit as badly as newspaper publishing, which was already contracting before the economic downturn began. Since then, economic woes have simply reinforced
the long-term trend.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment in the newspaper publishing industry has plunged from 414,000 in 2001 to 246,020 in 2011, equaling a 40.6% drop in 10 years. The 2011 figure is down 5% from 258,950 in 2010 and 20.4% from 309,000 in 2009.
While most newspaper publishers have done their best to keep newsroom numbers up, sweeping layoffs have inevitably affected editorial staff.
Separate figures from the American Society of Newspaper Editors indicate that total newsroom
employment has shrunk from 56,400 in 2001 to 40,566 in 2012, for a 28.1% decline in a little over a decade. The 2012 figure is down 2.5% from 41,609 in 2011.
Some newspaper publishers have experienced bigger percentage declines than others.
At the end of 2011, Gannett Co. had 31,000 employees, down 40% from 51,500 total employees at the end of 2001. Over the same period the number of employees at its U.S. publishing division shrank 47% from 39,400 to 20,900. McClatchy Co.’s total workforce has declined 53.5% from 16,791 in 2006, following its acquisition of Knight Ridder, to 7,800 at the end of 2011.
The New York Times Company had 7,273 employees at the end of 2011, down 40% from 12,050 at the end of 2001.
It’s not news that the industry is under tremendous financial pressure. The Newspaper Association of America reports that total advertising revenues plunged from $49.3 billion in 2006 to $23.9 billion in 2011 -- a 51.5% drop in five years.