Service industries twice as valuable as factories

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The Independent Online

The business and financial services sectors are twice as valuable to the UK economy as the beleaguered manufacturing sector, official figures published yesterday showed.

Banks, insurers and computer services firms saw their share of total economic output soar to 31.7 per cent in 2003, more than twice the 14.8 per cent contribution from Britain's manufacturers, who are still bleeding jobs. Five years ago, the manufacturing sector's contribution was 20.1 per cent.

Retailers and wholesalers overtook manufacturing in terms of their economic input, contributing 15.7 per cent of the economy in 2003, the Office for National Statistics said.

The total output of the business and financial services sector surged 8.4 per cent from 2002 to 2003 to £310.9bn, slower than the 12 per cent growth it recorded the previous year. This was still much faster that the growth in the country's total output, which rose 5.5 per cent to £981.7bn.

The fastest growing industry over the period from 1992 to 2003 was computer and related services, weighted in terms of percentage and value change in monetary terms. The growing trend for eating out meant spending in restaurants jumped by 90 per cent from 1992 and 2003 to £82.2bn, outpacing the rate of growth in overall household consumption.

While the hotels, catering and pubs industry was among the 10 fastest-growing sectors during the decade, growth in agriculture and food processing has failed to keep pace with that of the whole economy.