UK Manufacturing Output , May 2022:  The latest headline data for manufacturing output from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows month-on month growth of +1.4% with 12 of the 13 sub-sectors having output higher than in April.  This was led by growth in other manufacturing & repair and pharmaceuticals and the exception was in basic metals & metal products (more on this later when we look at the individual industries).  Thanks to this growth, output in May 2022 was fractionally above (100.1%) the pre-pandemic level which is taken as February 2020 for the monthly series.

We prefer to focus on the 3-month rolling trends as this takes out some of the monthly noise in the data;  this shows that total manufacturing output in the latest 3 months (March, April and May 2022) was +0.2% higher than in the previous 3 months (December 2021 and January and February 2022) and +2.0% above the level of the same months last year (March to May 2021).

Looking in more detail at the sub-group level, despite a strong increase in May, output of the capital goods industries (the most important part of manufacturing for most MTA & EIA members) in the latest 3 months was -0.8% lower than in the previous period and -1.0% lower than a year ago.  The growth in May means that output of this sector is at 91.4% of its pre-pandemic level but this is the weakest of the sub-groups with only consumer durables and energy also below 100%.

Of the individual industries that we track, only metal products (a substantial part of which is the activity of sub-contractors working in metal) saw output fall in May but thanks to the strength of this industry earlier in the year it is the only one where output increased in the latest 3 months compared to both the previous 3 months (+4.3%) and a year earlier (+9.6%).  Output in this industry in May stood at 106.8% of its pre-pandemic level.

The strongest monthly output increase was in the machinery industry but this was not enough to overcome the significant reductions this group saw in both March and April and the 3-month trends were -3.0% and -7.3% respectively, with the May output level at 99.1% of its pre-pandemic figure.

The aerospace industry may be seeing a spark of recovery – finally!  The revised data now shows a month-on-month increase in four of the five months of 2022 (March was flat) and output in the latest 3 months is +2.2% higher than in the previous three months, although it is still -8.3% lower than a year earlier and the May figure is only 62.1% of its pre-pandemic level – by far the weakest of the industries that we track.

This leaves the automotive industry which, like machinery, has negative trends on both measures for growth in the latest 3 months with output -3.4% lower than in the previous 3 months and -4.2% down on a year ago.  However, the short-term figure is heavily influenced by a very strong figure in December and given that this will drop out of the calculation next month, we will see a change in these trends.  The May output figure is 77.7% of that in February 2020.

You can download the ONS Statistical Bulletin from their web-site at (13 July) or request it from MTA;  we also have an analysis of the key industries which is available to members – please contact Geoff Noon ([email protected]) if you would like these charts.


UK GDP, May 2022:  The ONS uses the output data to produce the monthly GDP estimate and the latest figures showed month-on-month growth of +0.5% in May and, thanks in part to some revisions back to the start of the year, an increase of +0.4% in the 3 months up to May despite the fall in GDP in April (-0.2%).  The level of UK GDP in May 2022 was +3.5% higher than a year earlier.

We have discussed the manufacturing data already and both the other major sectors of the economy also grew in May with services up by +0.4% and construction increasing by +1.5%.  In the latter case, the April figure has been revised and now shows growth, meaning that this is the 7th consecutive month of growth for construction and it is now at its highest level since monthly records began in 2010.  Output of this sector is +4.1% above its pre-pandemic level (February 2020).  The growth in May came from new work which out-paced a small fall in repair & maintenance activity.

Turning to the service sector, the month-on-month growth came mainly from the human health & social work group of activities which expanded by +2.1% thanks to a large rise in GP appointments which outweighed the continued scaling down of NHS Test & Trade and Covid vaccination programmes.  The main negative impact came from wholesale trade (excluding that for motor vehicles).

However, this overall growth hides some sharp divergences with the sector;  most notably, output of consumer-facing services (this includes retail trade, food & beverage serving activities, travel & transport and entertainment & recreation) decreased by -0.1% in May and is now -4.7% below its pre-pandemic level while output of “other services” is +3.6% above the February 2020 figure.

There are more details in the ONS Statistical Bulletin which can be downloaded from their website at (13 July) or on request from MTA.


European Industrial Production, May 2022:  Data published by Eurostat shows that total industrial production (IP) grew by +0.6% in the EU compared to April, with growth of +0.8% in the Euro-zone.  Looking back over 12 months, industrial production (manufacturing plus energy) increased by +2.7% in the EU but only +1.6% in the Euro-zone.

At the sub-sector level, the fastest month-on-month growth in the EU was for capital goods at +2.5% with non-durable consumer goods (e.g. food & drink and other short-life items) growing by +2.1%;  energy was the only sub-sector to fall.  However, for the Euro-zone, the leading categories swapped places with non-durable consumer goods the fastest growing at +2.7%, followed by capital goods with growth of +2.5% – again, energy was the only sub-sector where output fell compared to April.

Moving to the comparison with May 2021, capital goods grew by +1.8% in the EU and only +0.9% for the Euro-zone;  this leaves it in the middle of the range which also revealed the source of some of the divergence between the two areas.  In the EU, output of all the subsectors was higher than a year ago with energy (+0.7%) and intermediate goods (+0.6%) the weakest;  however, in the Euro-zone, both of these sectors saw output lower than a year ago (-1.5% and -0.2% respectively).

By country, of the 26 Member States that have published their data – as always, Cyprus is the one that is missing – 21 saw output higher in May 2022 than it was a year earlier and only 5 countries saw a reduction.  The strongest growth was in Bulgaria (+20.2%) and Denmark (+17.2%) with the largest falls occurring in Malta (-4.8%) and Luxembourg (-2.1%);  however, there is a note of caution because both Germany (-1.4%) and France (-0.2%) saw output lower than a year ago and, in both cases, this was the 3rd consecutive month that they have been in this position.

You can download the euro-indicators bulletin from the Eurostat website at (13 July) or request it from MTA.


USMTO and CTMR, May 2022:  The US Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) programme tracks orders in the US market, based on the reports from participants.  Over the first 5 months of 2022, orders were just over 20% higher than in the same period (January to May) of 2021.

This generates the headline of the first fall in the 12-month rolling total for US machine tool orders since November 2020 but that is misleading on a couple of fronts.  The fall compared to the 12 months to April is very small – £4 million in £6.3 billion – and, as the latter figure shows, the market is still at a record high level

We don’t have all the regional data but focusing on the figures for metal cutting machine tools (which is over 98% of the total, so not far off!), three regions are above the average growth rate (which is +22% for metal cutting machines).  This is led by South-Central (+46%) and South-East (+43%), with the West (+31%) as the other strong area;  the other regions all had similar growth rates with North-Central-East and North-Central-West at +14% and the North-East at +11%.

The US Cutting Tool Market Report (CTMR) tracks orders for tooling on a similar basis;  for the period of January to May 2022, consumption was +9.1% higher than a year earlier.  The recovery in this part of the sector has been slower than for machine tools, although, for now at least it is continuing at its steady pace, at least in terms of the rolling 12-month total.  In the press release, AMT’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Pat McGibbon, suggests that the expansion in production capacity that they are seeing in the machine tool orders will drive continued growth in the tooling market through into 2023.

You can download the press releases for the two surveys from the AMT web-site at, with the CTMR release also published on the USCTI web-site at;  alternatively, you can request either or both releases from MTA and we can make sure you get them when they are published each month.

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