ONS production and manufacturing figures show UK is beginning to stir from its slumber
Metaphorically speaking, there’s something very pleasing about hearing that production and manufacturing are picking up. Perhaps it’s because it is very easy to visualise production as being the engine room that has always been responsible for driving our country forward – knowing that the sector is finally growing again immediately bombards one with visions of the limbs of UK industry grinding back into life. Then again, maybe we’ve just been indulging in a little more steampunk and Victoriana than is good for us.
Regardless, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), both production output and the manufacturing sector seem to be showing signs of growth. Between Q4 2012 and Q1 2013, UK production output rose 0.2%, further consolidating April’s GDP estimates that also predicted such a rise in production.
Whilst during the same period manufacturing dropped by 0.3%, month-on-month figures show a marked increase between February and March 2013 of 1.1%. Frosty temperatures in March – the lowest the month has seen since 1962 – also saw a huge leap in demand for electricity, gas steam and air conditioning, resulting in an increase of 2.4%. Overall production output for the period jumped a satisfying 0.7%, bringing some much needed cheer to an area that has had more than its fair share of grim news.
A little context perhaps wouldn’t go amiss. The last year has definitely seen some rather brutal drops in production, with production and manufacturing in Q1 2013 down 2.3% and 2.1% respectively on the same quarter in 2012. However long-term things haven’t been as damaging as this might suggest. Compared to figures during the height of the financial crisis in 2009, manufacturing has actually increased by 4%. Production hasn’t fared as well – dropping 1.5% – but if these latest ONS figures are anything to go by then we may yet see a return to health for the UK’s production output.