Britain’s factories shed jobs in November at their fastest rate since 2012, as Brexit and the global trade slowdown take their toll.
The IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) shrank to 48.9 last month from 49.6 in October. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
November’s figures mean the UK manufacturing sector has contracted for seven straight months, the longest negative run since 2009. The PMI’s employment component sank to 46.8 from 47.1, the steepest pace of job losses for seven years.
“November saw UK manufacturers squeezed between a rock and a hard place,” said IHS Markit economist Rob Dobson. “The uncertainty created by a further delay to Brexit was accompanied by growing paralysis ahead of the forthcoming general election.”
He added: “Downturns in output and new orders continued amid a renewed contraction in exports. The pace of job losses also hit a seven-year high as firms sought to reduce overheads in the face of falling sales.”
In more gloomy news for the UK economy, both the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and manufacturing trade body Make UK downgraded their growth forecasts for 2020.
The CBI now predicts growth of 1.3 per cent this year and 1.2 per cent in 2020. This compares with equivalent figures of 1.4 per cent and 1.5 per cent in July. The organisation warned that even this modest growth was predicated on a trade deal with the EU that leads to no trade tariffs and little divergence from EU rules.
Make UK halved its forecast for manufacturing growth next year to 0.3 per cent.
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