Manufacturing production turned in its best performance in three years in April, surprising new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed yesterday.
The ONS said that manufacturing – about 12 per cent of the economy now compared with 18 per cent in the mid-1990s – grew 2.3 per cent from March, well ahead of recent more patchy indicators for the sector.
The ONS said that total industrial production output is estimated to have increased by 2 per cent in April compared with March when the gain had been just 0.3 per cent.
Zach Witton, deputy chief economist at the EEF manufacturers’ group, said: “Whilst the size of the gain is surprising it generally fits with the picture that the worst may now be behind the sector.
“It also backs up the feeling that there are no concrete signs that uncertainty associated with the upcoming (EU) referendum has had a major impact on manufacturing.”
Economist Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said: ”The makers really did march at last in April”.
He added that although industrial production only accounts for around 15 per cent of GDP, the size of April’s jump in output “provides a significant lift to hopes that GDP growth may hold up better in the second quarter than had seemed likely”.
Meanwhile, a study by the GMB union showed that manufacturing output was still 6 per cent below pre-recession levels, with 385,500 jobs lost since 2008 and the biggest falls being seen in Scotland, the North West and London.