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The Job Outlook in Publishing: Is It as Bad as My Grandmother Tells Me?

As a soon-to-be college graduate, I’m interested in having a job in the next year. And really, I’d like a full-time job. And I’d like to be in the field I’ve spent my time in college preparing to go into. So can I expect to meet those (in my opinion) minimal criteria? What does the job outlook for editors and publishing in general look like?

Some people, like my grandmother, like to tell me jobs in print publishing are disappearing. But while the statistics aren’t ideal, they don’t back up her dramatic warnings.

What do the current statistics say?

When looking at labor statistics for “publishing” or “editors,” it’s important to note that this includes newspapers, magazines, and books. The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups them together for a reason; while they have different goals, they all sell writing. So even though I’m professionally interested in book publishing, I’m going to go along with the Department of Labor’s classification system. I’d like to think that even if book-specific editing jobs disappeared, I’d be able to get a job in magazines or news.

Unemployment for publishing stands at 5.4% as of November 2018. This is above the national rate of 3.7% as of November. That looks bad, but publishing for the previous two months was actually below the national rate. The national unemployment rate has been hovering around 3.9-3.7% since April, with only slight fluctuations. In publishing specifically, the rates for August, September, and October were 5.6%, 2.9%, and 1% respectively.

In 2017, there were 96,890 editors employed, whereas in 2010 there were 99,160. This reflects a 16.9% drop from 2008 to 2018. However, employment for editors is only expected to drop 1.4% between 2016 and 2026, which is fairly stable. And I’d like to point out that this isn’t necessarily book editors; a lot of those lost jobs will be in newspapers, while book and magazine publishing will stay roughly the same.

Table of quick facts about the job of editors, demonstrating one fact in particular: job outlook from 2016-2016 going down 1% meaning little or no changeImage from Bureau of Labor Statistics’ page on Editors in their Occupational Outlook Handbook

Can I expect to get and keep a job in publishing?

Of course, there’s risk with everything. But the statistics pleasantly surprised me. Even if you think only in terms of newspapers, a 1.4% drop in employment for editors is nothing compared to the claims you hear everywhere that newspapers are dying. Publishing needs to keep up with our current economy and society, but clearly they’re doing something right. Besides the highly competitive nature of the field, it seems like if you can get in, you can be comfortable there will be jobs for you somewhere–at least for the next eight years.


Featured image by Immigration Solutions Experts

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