Data from EEF and BDO also shows the region’s manufacturers also accounted for 10.4% of the UK’s manufactured exports in 2016 and 52% of those goods exports go to Europe. Tony McDonough reports
North West manufacturers have enjoyed the biggest increase in output and orders balances over the past year compared to other UK regions, new data shows.
A report out today from rom EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and BDO, revealed 318,000 people are now employed in manufacturing across the North West as of March 2017 – accounting for 8.8% of the region’s total workforce.
The region’s manufacturers also accounted for 10.4% of the UK’s manufactured exports in 2016 and 52% of those goods exports go to Europe.
However, despite a strong year as a whole, output has started to tail off in the last three months as consumer and public sectors start to tighten their belts due to budget cuts and a squeeze on real incomes.
The pharmaceutical sector, which accounts for 20% of the North West’s manufacturing has had a poor start to the year while weaker consumer spending has hit the food & drink sector.
This, together with increased political uncertainty, has hit investment intentions which remain subdued.
An improved picture is forecast for the second half of the year, however, which is reflected in improved job prospects where companies on balance expect to increase recruitment.
This continues a trend over the last three years where North West recruitment intentions have trended above the national average.
The annual report – Regional Manufacturing Outlook – draws in survey data and the latest Office for National Statistics figures to provide a longer-term and in-depth picture of the health of UK manufacturing.
This year, it reveals that the North West now boasts 14,560 manufacturing businesses, with food and drink, transport equipment and pharmaceuticals being the region’s main sectors.
Richard Halstead, interim region director in the North West at EEF, said: “Positive trends in UK manufacturing are being reflected here in the North West with the region seeing across the board improvement since the third quarter 2016.
“Confidence within the sector across the region remains strong in spite of a squeeze on domestic budgets.
“Uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU could be however hampering investment, but overall the outlook is positive.”