IPA figures released this week show that about 14,000 people currently work for its 209 member companies -- 4 per cent less than would have been expected, judging by the trade body's increase in
"It's almost as though we've lost two agencies the size of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO," a senior industry source commented.
But Hamish Pringle, the IPA's director-general, acknowledged that the known job losses may represent only part of the real picture.
"Anecdotally, we hear that more and more freelancers and consultants are being released by agencies, but we have no real fix on it," he said. "Perhaps this is a factor we'll have to consider when we compile our figures in the
future. The numbers could well be worse than we fear."
The statistics come in the wake of a significant downturn in new business and cuts in client spends which have forced a number of major agencies -- including AMV, BMP DDB, Saatchi & Saatchi, M&C Saatchi,
D'Arcy and HHCL & Partners -- to shed jobs.
Bruce Haines, the IPA president, said: "The figures
depress me deeply but they're not surprising."
The 14,000 figure, representing an average of 67 people working at each member agency on 1 September 2001, compares with 13,500 at 196 agencies during the corresponding period in 2000.
IPA executives had been
expecting the number of employees to rise to about 14,600 in line with an expanded membership.
Privately, however, some believe the industry could have lost up to 10 per cent of its workforce.
The official numbers are in stark contrast to the early 70s, when 17,200 people worked in agencies. But they are not as bad as they were during the worst period of the recession the 90s, when they hit an all-time low of 11,100.
Haines said: "The difference between now and the early 90s is that today's agencies were already working to high levels of efficiency before the downturn. The result should be that many of the people laid off should find themselves back in employment as prospects improve."
The situation could increase pressure on the IPA to make more of its services available for freelances.
"At the moment there's no real home for them," a source told Campaign.
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