Engineering employers expect output, orders and jobs to continue falling, according to the latest Engineering Employers’ Federation/Robson Rhodes business trends survey.
Just 20% of the 1,837 firms in the survey expect orders to increase while 50% expect a decrease, giving a negative balance of -30%, down from -28% last quarter. New order expectations were still negative, with a balance of -27%, up from -38% last quarter. This improvement, reflected in import and export forecasts, suggests that the manufacturing recession will continue but may be bottoming out.
However, more engineering firms expect to lose jobs, with a negative balance of -27% last quarter falling to -31%.
Regional expectations, based on the new Regional Development Agencies and England, Scotland Wales, Northern Ireland and London, rather than on the EEF’s areas, are uniformly negative. Some are less negative than others – eastern England and Wales have the highest output and order expectations. Wales has the least negative employment expectations, with a balance of -11%. This may be because it has already suffered large job losses.
Manufacturing output in February showed a fall of 0.1% compared to a rise of 0.1% in January.