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Manufacturing Job Losses

Volume 116: debated on Tuesday 12 May 1987

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asked the Paymaster General if he will make a statement on regional differences in manufacturing job losses.

There has been a long-term trend away from manufacturing employment in most industrialised countries, which has been evident in all regions of the United Kingdom since 1966. The world recession of the early 1980s combined with overdue action by British industry to reduce damaging levels of overmanning which had built up in the 1960s and 1970s accelerated this process in the United Kingdom, especially in those areas which relied most heavily on manufacturing employment. Since mid-1983, however, the rate of decline in manufacturing employment has slowed markedly overall, varying between a fall of 9 per cent. in the South East and a rise of 6 per cent. in East Anglia (June 1983 to June 1986).In all regions where there has been a net loss of jobs in manufacturing since mid-1983 these losses have at least been offset by a rise in the number of jobs elsewhere in the economy. Some of the decrease in the number of employees in employment in manufacturing will be the result of re-classification of jobs such as industrial cleaning, catering, computer services and road haulage, previously done by manufacturer's own employees and now done by subcontractors. This developing feature of our economy has the effect of exaggerating the extent of the move from manufacturing to service sector employment.