Industrial output hits high for year to date


IN MAY output in the industrial sector hit its highest level in the year to date, according to figures published yesterday by the Central Statistics Office.

Total manufacturing output was 1.6 per cent higher in May than in April and 3 per cent above the level recorded in January.

The figures are adjusted to strip out seasonal fluctuations.

The increase contrasts with developments more widely across the euro zone, where industrial production has been contracting in 2012.

The continued growth in Irish manufacturing output was driven by the pharmaceuticals sector, which is by far the largest sector by output.

Pharmaceuticals tends to be a highly recession-proof industry. During the very large downturn in industrial production globally in late 2008 and early 2009 Ireland bucked the trend largely because output in the pharmaceutical industry continued to grow.

The continued growth in pharmaceutical output also suggests a feared decline in production – owing to a number of drugs manufactured in Ireland coming off patent at the end of 2011 – has not taken place in 2012.

May marked the third consecutive monthly increase output in the sector.

Less positively, the traditional manufacturing sector cut output in May. A monthly decline of 4.8 per cent largely reversed gains in March and April and output remains close to levels last registered in the 1990s.

The traditional sector tends to be more labour-intensive than the modern sectors.

Despite the weakness of traditional industry, yesterday’s figures showed employment in manufacturing is holding up. In the first quarter of 2012 just over 130,000 people were are work in the manufacturing sector, in line with the level recorded over the past year.