Engineering turnover fell 1.7% overall in the year to the end of September. The figure combines a 1.4% fall in export turnover and a 1.9% decrease in the home market. Orders on hand were down 2.1% on a year ago.
Many believe that the effect of lost contracts due to the strength of the pound are only just feeding in, and that exports will now fall rapidly.
Within engineering, the picture for machinery and equipment engineers is very gloomy. Exports are down 3.9% on the last quarter and the home market fell 3.0%. Orders fell 9.4% on the year.
Electrical and optical equipment engineers saw less marked falls: only 0.7% overall, 1.1% in the home market and just 0.2% for exports. Orders, though, were 4.6% down compared with a year ago.
The machine tool figures are arguably the most worrying. Over the year, turnover fell 9.5% to £193.6m. Home turnover was down 23.9%, although exports, against expectations, rose 17.1%.
Orders were estimated at 20% less than in September 1997.
Given that machine tool sales give an early indication of the fortunes of manufacturing as a whole, this could have serious implications for the immediate future of manufacturing.