Manufacturing in UK continues to go downhill

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The Independent Online
The importance of manufacturing to the British economy continues to slide with only two British areas now in the "top 20" regions in Europe.

Based on the percentage of the workforce employed in the sector, only the East Midlands, with 35.4 per cent in manufacturing, and the West Midlands, with 34.4 per cent, are among the top regions.

Baden-Wuerttemberg in Germany comes first with 43 per cent of employment in manufacturing and second is Lombardy in Italy with 42 per cent, according to the most recent figures from the European labour force survey. Six of the top 10 areas are in Germany, three in Italy and one in Spain.

The North of England comes 27th with 31.3 per cent of its workforce in manufacturing, just above the European average of 30.2 per cent. The 11 other regions in the United Kingdom are all below the average figure.

The North West comes 34th out of 75, East Anglia 44th, Scotland 48th, Northern Ireland 51st and the South West 52nd. The South East is 65th, just ahead of areas such as Sicily and the Mediterranean region of France. Even Madeira comes 26th.

John Edmonds, general secretary of the GMB general union, which collated the statistics, said the figures amounted to an indictment of the government.

"Nothing better illustrates better the dismal failure of Tory industrial policy than this league table. There was a time when Britain was the workshop of the world and the West Midlands was the workshop of Britain. Now the East Midlands scrapes into the top 20.

"It was fashionable in the early days of Thatcherism to say that manufacturing did not matter. It does. The prosperity of Europe's regions is in direct relationship to their manufacturing base. The UK needs a sustained period of investment in its manufacturing industries to secure the country's future."

Figures from the European survey also show that British regions have the second highest percentage of part-time workers in Europe behind the Netherlands. The top four areas, all in Holland, vary from 35 per cent to 40 per cent.

Europe's top 20 manufacturing regions

Region % of workforce

in manufacturing

1. Baden-Wuerttemberg 43.3

2. Lombardia 41.83

3. Sachsen 39.79

4. Thueringen 37.79

5. Bayern 37.54

6. Sachsen-Anhalt 37.27

7. Nord Est 37.26

8. Noreste 37.20

9. Rheinland-Pfalz 36.97

10. Nord Ovest 36.90

11. Este 36.53

12. Nordrhein-Westfalen 35.96

13. Centro (I) 35.64

14. Brandenburg 35.62

15. East Midlands 35.39

16. Westoesterreich 35.32

17. Saarland 35.14

18. Est 35.14

19. Emilia-Romagna 35.06

20. West Midlands 34.33

Source: Eurostat