Boost for UK manufacturing output

Posted on 22 Oct 2014 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Manufacturing output in the UK has now surpassed its levels in the late 1970s, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The news comes as opposition to indications that manufacturing has taken a hit in confidence.

Manufacturing output has risen, despite falling job numbers and a decline in its economic share from 36% in 1948 to 10% in 2013.

Additionally, productivity in the industry has increased to roughly 2.8% yearly since 1948, compared to the service industry, which has risen 1.5% annually.

Joe Grice, chief economist for ONS said: “There are several factors at work: a better quality and more skilled workforce; a shift from the production of low- to high-productivity goods; an improvement in the information technology base; more investment in research and development; and a more integrated global economy.

“Exporting firms generally are associated with higher productivity and foreign-owned firms in the UK generally experience higher productivity than domestic firms.”

The figures revealed the manufacturing workforce is more skilled and experienced than years ago.

Job numbers have fallen across all manufacturing sub-industries according to the data, which the ONS stated could be the result of outsourcing.

There has been an 80%-plus reduction in textiles jobs from 1979 to 2013, as well as a 40% decrease in employment in the wood and paper sub-industry.