Manufacturing growth begins to slow down

Manufacturing is growing at a slower rate than expected amid a loss of momentum in the industry, new research has revealed.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at manufacturers organisation EEF, cited headwinds faced by the oil and gas industry. Picture: Contributed

The EEF trade body’s latest survey of firms showed demand for goods in the UK had weakened in the past few months, while exports remained flat.

Confidence was said to be slipping, leading to “softer” recruitment plans, according to today’s study.

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Lee Hopley, chief economist at the EEF, said: “Manufacturing is still growing, just not at the pace anticipated at the beginning of the year. The sector is still in positive territory, but the ground is looking a lot less firm beneath its feet.

“Much of this weakening is down to the impact of the decline in oil and gas activity on the supply chain. There is a range of challenging factors at play, but the net result is that this weakening trend looks set to continue – potentially even through to the end of the year.

“The sector has seen a good run of not only growth, but employment, investment and productivity gains over the past couple of years and it’s vital that the new government takes all necessary steps to enable this to continue into the future.”

The latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector will be published by Markit and Cips today. The survey is expected to show a slight upturn in expansion for May following a slowdown the previous month.

Richard May, partner at law firm DLA Piper, which helped with the EEF report, said: “Whilst the overall outlook for the manufacturing sector is still one of growth, hopefully a majority government and the promise of increasing economic stability will boost confidence and have a positive effect.”