British Manufacturers To Shed 42,000 Jobs, Report Says

By Agence France-Presse Britain's hard-pressed manufacturers are set to shed 42,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2003 as they grapple with shrinking order books in the face of weak global demand, The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said Jan. 22. The CBI said 74% of British manufacturers were now operating below capacity -- the highest proportion in 20 years. And it added that with large sections of British factories standing idle, firms were now planning to pare back investment spending "significantly." "With little let-up in the two-year decline in orders and output, the overall picture will concern manufacturers . . . . This promises to be another challenging year," said CBI chief economist Ian McCafferty. Earlier this month official figures showed that manufacturing employment had shrunk to 3.58 million in the three months to November 2002, down 155,000 on the same period a year earlier. That left manufacturing employment at its lowest level since records began in 1978, when the sector provided a livelihood for 6.9 million British workers. But the loss of jobs in the struggling manufacturing industry has been offset by growth in the public and services sectors, leaving the British unemployment total at just 928,300 in December -- the lowest level since September 1975. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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