marketplace, small publishers, and even sole practitioner publishers, are growing and thriving.
One of the indicators of this trend lies in magazine publishing employment. The U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns annual reports show that industry employment in 2000 was 170,500. By 2015, it fell to 98,500 — a level last seen in the late 1980s. Everyone in the industry has felt or witnessed the pain. Large publishers, primarily, closed their doors and shed significant numbers of workers. In 2000, there were 92 publishing companies with 250 or more employees; by 2014, there were 48.
The question is, where have these employees gone? Did they migrate to different industries? Or, perhaps, have they moved to different corners of the same industry, changing its fundamental structure?
When we dig further into the data, we see areas of growth — all of them consolidated in the arena of small publishing. We see an increase in the percentage of publishing companies with fewer than five employees. Since 2005, more than half of all periodical publishers (now 54 percent of them) have a staff this small. If we stretch the lens back further, we see that these publishers have more than doubled in number since 1986.
There is also growth among companies with just one employee, or “sole practitioners.” In 2000, there were 21,600 such businesses. By 2013, their ranks increased by 38 percent to 29,900 companies.