Recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics have revealed that the UK manufacturing industry has experienced slower than expected growth.
Although the 0.3% increase in manufacturing between November and December 2013 was welcomed it had been expected to be much higher, after a poll carried out by Reuters had predicted growth of 0.6%.
The main contributors to the growth in the sector came from pharmaceutical products and preparations, the manufacture of refined petroleum products, food, beverages and tobacco.
Even with the Bank of England keeping rates at a record low and the economy expanding at the fastest rate since 2007 the manufacturing sector is set for steady rather than rapid growth.
This combined with output for the overall industrial sector underperforming means that the industry is unlikely to be the driving force of the UK’s economic recovery.
Key economists have raised concerns over a unsustainable recovery led by household spending and government schemes such as Help to Buy, more so at a time when is has been suggested that it will take six years before real wages return to their 2009 peak.
It is vital to the economy’s recovery that the manufacturing sector performs and using methods such as lean manufacturing to make efficiency gains could go a long way to help stifle the slowdown.
However key figures in the manufacturing sector have expressed their optimism despite the slowing growth. Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at the EEF Manufacturers’ Organisation has said that growth will continue and expects an expansion of 0.6% in the first quarter of 2014. He also added that as the year progresses demand for exports will increase and in time the data will represent this.