Engineering unemployment is set to rise steeply next year as domestic output stagnates and imports flood in, according to employers.
In its First Quarter Engineering Trends, the Engineering Employers’ Federation has extended its economic forecasts into 1999, past the peak in the UK economic cycle.
Assuming the pound stays high, the forecast shows growth in the engineering industry pulling up abruptly from 3.5% in 1997 to just 0.5% this year, with little recovery in 1999.
‘Very slow growth accompanied by rising import penetration inevitably gives rise to the prospect of job losses,’ the report says.
‘Our expectation is for a relatively small decline in the numbers employed during this year, but with a much more pronounced effect in 1999.’
Manufacturing companies are starting to express fears that job losses will become inevitable as orders are lost abroad, and domestic customers turn to cheaper imports boosted by Asian product that will not sell in Far East markets.
Survey results for the first quarter of 1998 show a continued squeeze on export orders, which have shown a decline for five successive quarters.