UK manufacturing employment has hit its lowest level since 1841, according to a government survey released late Thursday.
The November Labor Market Report from the Office for National Statistics noted that the manufacturing employment levels were the same as the time period when the country's main sectors included coal mining, shipbuilding, textiles, iron and steel.
A total of 3.03 million workers were employed in the third quarter of 2006, a drop of 77,000 from the same time period in 2005. The mining, energy and water supply industries saw the largest employment jumps in the sector, increasing by 6,000 jobs compared to the prior year.
Whilst the Government seems determined to demonstrate it's Green credentials, by pressing ahead with measures to force industry to become "cleaner" our industrial base continues to decline. Whilst it is clear that on a global scale we need to reduce carbon emissions, the approach within the UK needs to be balanced. There is little to be gained by sacrificing our economic future just to be able to claim "we did our bit". In the scheme of things the UK even on current trends without any further intervention by the state is likely to be a small contributor to the overall carbon footprint on this planet. Compared with the impact that China, India and even the US are having, and are likely to have upon carbon emissions, any efforts made by us will have no effective impact upon the overall situation. Whilst I would not argue that the goal of reducing greenhouse gases is not an admirable one, I would argue that we should not be the ones to pay the greatest price to achieve what could only be a token benefit to the world.
If the Government are to increase the cost burden born by our manufacturers of producing there goods, they should balance that with financial incentives to adopt cleaner production methods. UK industry is already under great threat from lower cost Asian production and to further penalise them would be another "nail in the coffin". Manufactured exports contribute significantly to our balance of payments, and provide much needed employment in areas of the greatest need. it's time this Government started to help our industry and not be a part of it's destruction.