The latest Engineering Employers’ Federation quarterly survey showed a mixed picture for industry across the UK.
Output rose sharply in London and the south east, with a positive balance of 25% more companies experiencing growth rather than contraction. The south west and eastern regions also showed strong positive balances.
Northern Ireland is still surging ahead, with the second highest capacity utilisation in the UK, just behind the eastern region at 36%. The province was also the only UK area to show a rise in jobs, with a balance of 6% more companies taking on staff than losing them. The worst UK output figures came from Wales and eastern England north of the Wash.
Overall, output is expected to recover next year. All sectors are expected to benefit, except transport equipment, where growth will fall off after four years of solid growth.
The sharpest rises are forecast in electrical equipment (up 4.6%) and electronics (up 3.3%). But employment will continue to fall, the EEF says, with the hardest-hit sector over 1999/2000 being mechanical equipment. The only sectors expected to take on more staff in 2000 are electronics and electrical equipment.