The real estate boom/bubble of the past few years had a lot of interesting effects on the American economy that are now being unwound. One was that everybody’s brother in law became a mortgage broker. Another was that consumer spending kept rising even though incomes were stagnant. Yet another, which I hadn’t really thought about before, was that it made the struggling newspaper industry look slightly healthier than it actually was. From today’s W$J:
In the first quarter, revenue for every major ad category — classified, national and retail advertising — was down. The sharpest declines were for classifieds, where spending dropped 13.2% — not so much a result of competition from the Web as of economic woes affecting certain categories of advertisers. Real-estate classifieds, until recently a bright spot for the industry, have plunged along with the property market. Auto and employment classifieds are also sinking. Financial-news outlets such as the Journal are being hurt by a slump in technology advertising.
“Right now, you’ve got a perfect storm,” says Edward Atorino, an analyst with financial broker Benchmark Co. He predicts total ad revenue will fall 4.3% this year. The decline will be one of the steepest in history.