An American Greetings Corporation, LLC plant in Bardstown, Kentucky is reeling following the loss of a contract with Dollar Tree, Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTR), a brand of discount stores that carries the company’s greeting cards. Due to the loss of the contract, American Greetings layoffs will take place at the plant, numbering well over 100 cuts. These cuts follow a broader trend of the stationery market decline, where greeting card industry layoffs have been implemented by several different companies in order to respond to the difficulties that the sector is facing in today’s economy, namely the rise of e-cards and other alternatives to traditional stationery.
About 150 people in total will be shed as part of American Greetings’ job cuts.
The layoffs will take place in stages, with 64 people being cut in as part of American Greetings’ March layoffs in 2018, with another 84 to follow in the next 90 days.
The Kentucky layoffs will be hitting employees represented by the Teamsters Union. Rumors that the cuts are being made in order to transfer these jobs to non-union workers were disputed by company representatives.
The American Greetings layoffs will affect one of Nelson County’s largest employers. The plant housed 450 workers before the most recent round of cuts.
A spokesperson said that volume loss was the main driver of these job cuts, rebuking then notion that these cuts were the result of an industry decline, instead saying that the state of the business “remains stable.”
American Greetings is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, and brings in an annual revenue of about $1.8 billion.
E-Cards to Blame for Greeting Card Market’s Decline
The American Greetings layoffs in Bardstown can be viewed within the context of a broader greeting card industry decline, where new technology has served to eat up a large portion of the market. Since the battle of e-cards vs. paper cards began, the industry has taken a beating.
Stationery product manufacturing employment between 2007 to 2016 has plummeted in the industry by 42.2%. That huge drop in workers in a relatively short time shows that the industry is far from impervious to the technological threats that have challenged publishers operating in a variety of sectors, from newspapers to book producers.
The total number of U.S. stationery manufacturing facilities in the U.S. declined from 645 in 2007 to 488 in 2016.
The massive loss of relatively high-paying jobs over the past decade (average annual wages: $51,272) also speaks to the decline of manufacturing more broadly in America, stationery or otherwise. While politicians often claim to prioritize such well-paid, middle-class blue-collar jobs, there is little evidence that political words are being translated into effective action. Across the country, a manufacturing decline has stripped people and sometimes entire communities of major employers as well as paths to the middle-class for many non-college educated members of the workforce.
As industries like stationery continue to face an uphill battle fighting cheaper and more convenient alternatives that don’t create nearly as many high-paying blue-collar jobs in the economy, both people currently within the industry, as well as those looking to find well-paid work, will find an avenue closed off to them.
“American Greetings to lay off 150,” The Kentucky Standard, January 14, 2018.
“American Greetings plans 150 layoffs in Bardstown, Ky.” WDRB, January 11, 2018.
“America’s 24 dying industries include sound studios, textiles, newspapers,” USA Today, December 28, 2017.