GD Industry in the U.S.

Uh oh! The monkeys had better cover their eyes and ears now! Yesterday I posted an entry where I referenced information chronicling the state of the GD Industry in the UK. At that time, I wondered where such an analysis of the GD Industry in the U.S. was. Well I’ve found a study that was released late in 2004 by Strategies for Management, Inc. that profiles the U.S. GD Industry. Here are some snippets from the report but you can feel free to download the entire report for $2,875 from the store. Some of the report’s findings, based on historical and forecasted data include (all figures in 2004 US dollars):

— Total industry revenues for both graphic-design businesses and freelancers in 2004 is estimated at over $11 billion, which is expected to top $13 billion by 2009– Individual design establishments are expected to generate average revenues of $491,000 in 2004, and over $550,000 in 2009– Industry-wide equipment purchasing by design firms and freelancers is expected to grow from $211 million in 2004 to $250 million in 2009– Graphic design firms currently employ about 60,000 people, a level that is expected to reach nearly 68,000 employees by 2009– Nearly 75% of design businesses employ 1 to 4 people, and almost 90% have less than 10 employees– The 50 largest firms comprise less than 1% of the number of establishments, but account for over 16% ($1.3 billion) of the industry’s total billings– 15% of the industry’s graphic design firms are newly created each year– Freelancer gross revenues is expected to increase from over $3.4 billion in 2004 to over $3.8 billion in 2009– The industry currently has over 74,000 graphic-design freelancers, and this is expected to grow to well over 86,000 by the end of the decade

First of all, is that right? Our industry only brings in revenues around $11 billion? Graphic designers design every single thing around us, from clothing labels to newspaper layouts to book covers to On Air graphics to movie titles to e-commerce websites yet our industry only brought in $11 billion? PricewaterHouseCoopers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau published a report stating that the fledgeling Internet Advertising Industry — yep that’s Google searches, email newsletters and popup ads — generated about $8 billion for 2004.But maybe I’m just nit picking? The findings also state that while industry revenues are expected to grow from $11 billion to $13 billion by 2009, the number of overall freelancers is expected to grow from 74,000 to over 86,000 in about the same time frame. Gunnar Swanson wrote in December in an entry on Speak Up:

The disturbing-but-predictable prediction is that as the freelance population rises, the average gross freelancer income in 2004 dollars is expected to drop by a couple of thousand bucks. The total predicted revenue increase of 18% is, thankfully, greater than the total predicted graphic designer population increase of 14% but that????????s not going to the burgeoning freelance population.

It’s tough to really be able to analyze these numbers without the benefit of seeing the entire report and all of it’s findings. I’d love to see, similar to the report on the UK GD Industry, whether fees are trending up or down. I’d love to see a breakdown in terms of where money is coming from? Which sectors? I’d also love to see whether or not freelancers and agencies are spending more time to generate their numbers and employing flat fees. In other words, giving away work to clients for free.Alas, unless someone out there wants to donate $2,875, I’ll have to live with the summary of the report rather than the full report itself.The last snippet I’ll post from the report is this little nugget:

From 2005 to 2009 SFM expects steady, but modest growth in nearly all economic categories. Indicators show that by 2009 the industry will reach the same level of economic prosperity it achieved at the start of the industry’s dot-com boom, when the explosive demand for Web-design services caused the number of design firms and employees, as well as revenue and equipment-purchasing levels, to reach all-time highs.

Maybe I don’t recall correctly, my memory tends to fade as I get older, but if they’re saying that things will progressively improve to the point where they were right before the dot-com boom, I can’t help but recall……… weren’t things kinds crappy prior to the dot-com boom????? Things got BETTER during the boom, even if the fundamental flaws within our industry were still there and actually maybe getting worse.For now, here are the numbers. Maybe some of you out there are better at understanding these numbers than I am and can offer a different take on things? And if anyone has $2,975 burning a hole in their pocket……..chris{}


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