Job cuts as confidence and orders fall

Manufacturing employers expect to make 86,000 job cuts in the first half of
this year, as a result of declining business confidence and orders throughout
every region of the UK.

The latest regional healthcheck of UK manufacturing, published quarterly by
the CBI and Experian Business Strategies, shows firms have been cutting jobs
country-wide since Christmas.

Five out of 11 UK regions expect a modest recovery in orders over the next
four months, but this is unlikely to boost employment. Firms expect to continue
losing staff in every part of the country except Scotland.

The rate of job cuts has been fastest in the South East and slowest in the
South West. The most rapid decline in jobs is now expected in the North West.

The new manufacturing decline is being driven by a sharp deterioration in
domestic demand as weak global trading conditions spread to the home market.

For the first time since July 2001, no region recorded an increase in orders
over the past four months.

Export orders over the past four months fell in every region except
Yorkshire and the Humber, with substantial declines recorded in the South West
and the North West.

Peter Gutmann, associate director of Experian Business Strategies, said:
"The deep pessimism in this survey is partly a timing issue. Sentiment was
affected by the uncertainty surrounding the war in Iraq, which coincided with
the survey period. However, the underlying malaise in the global economy is a
depressing factor, reflected in backward-looking indicators."

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