More than 18,000 engineering jobs have disappeared in the face of deteriorating new orders, according to the latest EEF Engineering Trends Survey, published this month.
Falling employment for the first nine months of 1998 was mirrored by pay settlements, which dropped to 2.7% for the same period.
Output also fell for a third consecutive quarter. The seasonally adjusted balance of -28% is the weakest in the EEF survey’s five-year history.
Although total new order intake fell for the third successive quarter, the balance of -22% suggests the decline is slowing. Domestic order intake fell to -36% and export order intake also slumped, for the eighth successive quarter.
Capital expenditure plan, a proxy measure for business confidence, showed a sharp decline for the coming year.
Engineering jobs fell from a peak of 1,752,000 in December 1997 to nearly 1,734,000 in September 1998. Worst hit was the electrical equipment sector, where employment fell by 5,500 (3.2%). The only sector to see a rise was railways and aerospace (‘other transport’), driven by short-term reinvestment in rail. But aerospace, now nearing its cyclical peak, may begin to decline in the coming year.