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UK Manufacturing Output, March 2017:  Publication by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) of the March data also gives us the complete picture for the 1st quarter of the year and we will focus on that in this report.  Total manufacturing output increased by just +0.4% compared to the previous quarter, but was +2.6% higher than a year earlier (1st quarter of 2016).

As always, this high level result attracts the headlines, especially when these focus on total industrial production which includes extraction and utilities (which have been weak recently with the relatively good weather), but the more detailed picture is much more positive for MTA members.  Output of the Capital Goods industries, where most of our customers are classified, overall was +2.2% higher than at the end of 2016 and +5.4% up on a year earlier.

The detail industry data is even more encouraging, with the Machinery industry recording quarter-on-quarter growth of +4.2% to a level that was +8.1% higher than a year ago;  although it still has some way to go, it seems that the positive sings we saw in recent months have turned into a recovery in activity for this diverse sector.  Output of the Automotive industry was +3.6% higher than in the 4th quarter of 2016 and Aerospace saw activity expand by +2.3%;  the annualised trends for these two industries were +9.0% and +6.4% respectively.

The only weakness was the Metal Products industry where output fell by -2.4% on the previous quarter and was -3.1% lower than a year earlier.  This is heavily affected by a sharp fall in the output of weapons and ammunition - ironically, just about the only sub-industry data that is published! - but the “rest” of the Metal Products industry was still down on both trends.

You can download the ONS Statistical Bulletin from their web-site at or request it from MTA;  we also have an analysis of the key industries which is available to members - please contact Geoff Noon ( if you would like these charts.