Jobs Lost in Industry - but Wales Bucks Trend; ECONOMICS

Article excerpt

Thousands of manufacturing jobs will be lost because of the worsening economic outlook, a new report predicted today.

The confidence of manufacturing firms has been "dented" by the economic slowdown, with expectations for output generally gloomy, especially in the South, said the CBI.

Its study of 460 firms showed a mixed regional picture, with companies in Wales bucking the national trend by expressing confidence in their business prospects.

An estimated 18,000 manufacturing jobs will be lost in the second quarter of the year, mainly in the South East and London, South West and East of England.

Generally, the report sees the West Midlands holding up reasonably well.

Lai Wah Co, the CBI's head of economics analysis, said: "The slowdown under way in other parts of the economy is now being felt in the manufacturing sector.

"Look under the bonnet, however, and you'll see some marked regional differences.

"Welsh firms actually feel extremely upbeat after a very strong quarter, whereas the story in the South is of falling demand, shrinking output and declining jobs."

Peter Gutmann of Experian, which helped with the study, said: "The survey suggests that the pound's 14 per cent depreciation against the euro over the past year is helping to support manufacturing exports, at a time when eurozone growth is faltering.

"This is the one bright spot in a fairly downbeat picture.

"Without this boost, manufacturers would be facing even tougher conditions in the coming months."

At a national level, the volume of total new orders was stable over the past quarter but the regional picture was mixed.

In six regions total new orders fell, notably in the South West and South East.

By contrast, in Wales total orders surged to record the strongest gain since 1995.

They also improved markedly in Northern Ireland and modest increases were seen in Scotland and the West Midlands. …