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Manufacturing output rises for fourth month in a row

The manufacturing sector’s gradual recovery from the COVID-19 downturn continued through September, with new export growth reaching its highest rate for nearly two years.

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According to the monthly UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), the sector has now entered its longest period of expansion since early 2019, despite not quite meeting the six-year high growth rate seen in August.

Increased production in September was linked to improved inflows of new work, companies reopening and staff returning to work. New business rose for the third successive month, and exports also grew at the fastest rate for 21 months as more economies continued to recover around the world, particularly in Europe, Asia and North America.

However, the sector still faces challenging times, with employment levels continuing to drop month-on-month - although the rate of reduction in September eased to its lowest since the pandemic began.

Rob Dobson, Director at IHS Market, which compiles the monthly manufacturing survey, commented:

“While the sector is still making positive strides, keep in mind that there remain considerable challenges ahead. The full economic cost incurred by 2020 will likely rise further as governments look to re-introduce some restrictions, job support schemes are tapered and rising numbers of firms start focusing on Brexit as a further cause of uncertainty and disruption during the remainder of the year.”

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