THE North West remains the powerhouse of the UK's manufacturing sector and an increasingly critical factor in the region's economic growth, according to new statistics today from manufacturing organisation EEF. They show the manufacturing sector employs about 315,000 people in the region and is worth £16bn to the economy, almost 13% of the UK's overall manufacturing output. It also accounts for 11% of the North West regional economy. The growth is being driven by a broad spectrum of manufacturing companies in the region, from food and drink to healthcare, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, as well as the aerospace and automotive sectors which have a major bearing on the supply chain and have seen significant investment. Growth is also being driven largely by manufacturing exports which have increased by 34% in the past five years, especially to emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. EEF North West director David Ost said:

"Manufacturing has always been critical to the North West economy and the latest data only serves to underline its continued importance.
"At a time when we need to rebalance our economy and export our way to economic growth, policymakers across the region need to recognise its importance and do all they can to boost investment in our manufacturing base."

He added:

"Not only will this sustain the current levels of employment, but help create the high value, high skill jobs we urgently need."

The EEF data also shows that  average wages in manufacturing are higher than the rest of the economy; manufacturing accounts for 72% of spending on research and development in the UK; manufacturing accounts for half of UK exports; and output per hour in manufacturing over the past decade is almost three times that of the economy overall.

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