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Semper survey indicates hiring increase, growth

January 30, 2012

The Q1 report identifies increased profitability and optimism for the first time since Q4 2010.

Semper International, a placement firm for skilled help in the graphic arts and printing industries, has announced the results of its quarterly survey. According to the company, results indicate both hiring increases and overall growth for the first time since 2010.

"Responses show an increase in sales and profits. The number of respondents expecting increased sales in the upcoming quarter is on the rise," says Dave Regan, CEO of Semper International. "Traditionally the election season brings optimism in the marketplace and we certainly are seeing that this quarter. The number of companies planning to hire is finally increasing. Companies are doing more with less, but at some point they reach their maximum capacity."

To prevent bias, both qualitative and quantitative survey questions 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.

The most recent survey indicates the following business trends:

· 18% of companies are reporting plans to hire new people, up from just 12% last quarter. The number of respondents planning to hire had been decreasing steadily since the survey reporting on the fourth quarter of 2010.

· 73% of companies reported a profitable 4th quarter 2011, an increase of 12 points over the 3rd quarter. This is a reversal of a trend -- the first survey showing an increase in profitability since the Q4 2010 survey report.

· The number of respondents expecting sales to improve this quarter is up 6 percentage points over last quarter.

· For the eighth straight quarter, a large majority of companies reported that healthcare is the labor cost component that increased the fastest during the past quarter.

· The greatest competitive threat to printers remains the current economic climate, although it is decreasing somewhat. The number of respondents reporting the economy as their biggest threat dropped 3 percentage points.

· Ink to substrate continues to be the area where respondents find the most pricing pressure. The pressure on digital print is declining; respondents reporting downward pressure dropped 6 points.

· Referrals (36%) from internal staff and online searches (27%) continue to be the most popular ways to find employees, although there was a slight increase in the use of help wanted ads this quarter.

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