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Manufacturing jobs boosted for first time since July

THE recovery in Irish manufacturing finally started to translate into jobs in December, according to the latest purchasing managers' index (PMI) figures from NCB Stockbrokers.

The sector has now seen a sustained 10-month period of growth -- but last month's increase in jobs was the first since last July.

In the UK, manufacturing growth hit a 16-year high last month. Across the eurozone, the sector grew by more than had been expected in December, powered by Germany's export-led expansion.

Here, growth is mainly being driven by better export markets -- but NCB said December's data also showed the beginning of a broader recovery.

The latest figures show that manufacturing remains robust, according to Brian Devine of NCB. However, he warned that the there was still only a small net positive in terms of jobs.

The number of jobs in the sector was up for the first time in seven months, with 15.4pc of employers saying they created jobs in December, compared to 14.7pc who let staff go. The increase in employment therefore remains small but those surveyed said it reflected an increase in workloads.

New orders ultimately fed into an increase in purchasing by manufacturers and at least some of that fed back into the broader economy. The latest figures also show the manufacturing boom spreading out from the export sector.

Production growth was recorded in both the mainly export-orientated 'modern' sector and among traditional manufacturers, such as food and drinks makers.

Sales fell last monthbecause of the appalling weather -- but overall, new orders and export orders rose. Demand from the UK remains a key driver of growth but the Middle East and Asia were also important.

The Irish PMI data is published by NCB Stockbrokers and based on an extensive survey of 285 industrial managers. Research firm Markit collects the same data in the UK.

In Ireland, the PMI index rose to 52.2 in December, up from 51.2. Decreases in activity are recorded from 50 down and increases from 50 up.

In the UK, the figure rose to 58.3 in December from a revised 57.5 in November. Across the eurozone, the measure rose to 57.1 from 55.3.

In the UK CIPS said the weaker pound was boosting demand for British goods from abroad.

Manufacturing growth in the UK was close to the record high recorded in November.

"The start of 2011 is likely to be 'all systems go' for UK manufacturing," David Noble, chief executive officer at CIPS, said in the statement.

Across the eurozone, manufacturing industry grew more than expected in December, powered by Germany's export-led expansion.

Irish Independent