UK manufacturing sectors - their relative size

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And before you know it, Sector Friday rolls around once again and this week we're looking at the output of sectors as a proportion of the whole manufacturing sector (i.e. their relative size).

Let's get straight down to it and look at the stats in chart form...

% of manufacturing output by sector, 2012

Source: Oxford Economics

So we can see that:

  • Food & drink is well ahead of the rest accounting for nearly 17% of output in manufacturing
  • Next, other transport makes up 10.6%
  • Bottom of the pack basic metals accounts for just 2.2%

But how has the make-up of this changed over time? We can see from the chart below that food and drink has remained pretty steady compared with 30 years ago, accounting for 16.6% of manufacturing output in 1982. At the end of the chart we have textiles, which 30 years ago made up 7.8% of the sector but in 2012 had dropped to 3% - offshoring and the competitive pressure from textile suppliers in low cost locations has taken it toll on the sector over time, and now UK based textile manufacturers tend to focus on high-value, design-led and knowledge-intensive niche technical products.

Other transport has seen the biggest increase, adding 5 percentage points from the 5.6% of manufacturing output in 1982. Other sectors have seen moderate changes, ranging from pharmaceuticals accounting for 2 percentage points more of output now, to metal products accounting for 1.7 percentage points less.

% of manufacturing output by sector, 2012, and difference compared with 1982

Source: Oxford Economics

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Senior Policy Researcher

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