To put that decline of UK manufacturing into context

We all know there’s been a catastrophic fall in manufacturing in the UK. Everyone to the left of Attila the Hun has been telling us so for four decades now.

Hmm:

Manufacturing output in the three months to October was 5.7% below its level when the economy nosedived into recession in the first quarter of 2008.

Somewhere around 2006/2008, was when UK manufacturing output was at its, inflation adjusted, peak output.

Myself I tend not to think that 6% off the highest ever is best described as a collapse.

16 comments on “To put that decline of UK manufacturing into context

  1. And what will a lower exchange rate, thanks to Brexit, do for British manufacturing?

    It is time we copied Hong Kong and simply stopped collecting data on these things. What British manufacturing needs is for the government to stop trying to help it. Leave them alone to get on with whatever it is they want to do and they will thrive.

  2. But the hankering for manufacturing isn’t about anything as crass as money – it’s nostalgia for the dark satanic mills, never mind that they were ‘dark’ and ‘satanic’.

    Britain has lost sight of the New Jerusalem and now clutches to its febrile bosom the venemous serpent of financial services.

  3. “What British manufacturing needs is for the government to stop trying to help it. Leave them alone to get on with whatever it is they want to do and they will thrive.”

    You wouldn’t think that watching the BBC news. They always seem to find no end of small business owners telling s that “the Government should do something”.

    The triumph of hope over experience.

  4. There’s only been one PM in history who saw real UK manufacturing output fall during their term of office, and that#’s Gordon Brown.

    What people lament when they talk about the decline of manufacturing is the reduction in single-employer towns offering shitty, dangerous, unionised jobs in massive single-employer monopolies. Bring back coal! Bring back steel! bring back shipbuilding! Sod the brown people, let’s not allow them to develop their economies so that Labour heartlands don’t suffer!

    Incidentally, one surefire way of incensing an anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation lefty is to point out that their stance is inherently and incontrovertibly racist as it would mean third-world countries staying in absolute poverty.

  5. Well, in any media presentation of anything economic, even a 0.6% decrease in something is considered a catastrophic collapse. In most (not all) other science, 0.6% of anything is noise.

    Of course if it’s house prices, then a 0.0006% decrease is a catastrophic collapse.

  6. Numbers about “manufacturing” are nonsense. When I wrote software for a well-known manufacturer, I was working in “manufacturing”. But I was changing the e-commerce site. If I’d been working on the e-commerce site of Figleaves, everyone would have said I worked in retail.

    I’m currently doing some work for a manufacturing company, but really, about 10% of it is actually making a thing. The software design team is bigger than the production team.

  7. Almost on topic:

    Years ago I saw an article arguing that the much discussed poor performance of British manufacturing compared to German, in the late 19th century, had been much exaggerated. Can anyone please point me to anything good to read on this topic?

  8. Martin, assuming you’re not trolling and are also unable to use Google, the answer is fifth.

  9. BiW,

    “Numbers about “manufacturing” are nonsense. When I wrote software for a well-known manufacturer, I was working in “manufacturing”. But I was changing the e-commerce site. If I’d been working on the e-commerce site of Figleaves, everyone would have said I worked in retail.”

    In the ’80s when outsourcing, even if it stayed in country, really started to take off this caused quite a bit of angst, especially amongst the left as they really didn’t seem to get it and there was outrage every time the official figures came out showing a drop in manufacturing jobs.

    No matter how many times it was explained that if a manufacturing firm employing say, 1,000 people, of which 50 were IT and 50 cleaners, outsourced those 2 functions then manufacturing jobs decreased 100 jobs and the service sector increased by 100 jobs, but the total employment stayed the same they didn’t want to listen. Its when I started to realise that there’s none so deaf as those who will not listen and I should save my breath.

  10. What BiND said.
    Add that this applies to the Civil Service as well, so the growth in the public sector under New Labour was concealed by “outsourcing” (without changing terms and conditions) of cleaning and other menial jobs, not to mention millionaire BBC presenters.
    Forty-odd years ago my then employer had a caretaker who lived in a small flat on the sixth floor and frequently used to throw me out of the office when the cleaners came round: his wife habitually filled in for any cleaner who didn’t turn up (off sick or whatever), so if she was doing my floor I could stay a bit longer ‘cos she didn’t worry about working round me or telling me when to get out of the way. Good system. Then some would-be MBA decided to out-source and threw them out of their flat leaving us with no in-house security – idiot!

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