Sorry to disappoint the naysayers out there, but according to the latest industry data, the Australian manufacturing sector is in surprisingly good health.
Employment data released late last year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the sector added 14,000 jobs during the year.
And manufacturing actually increased its share of the overall workforce, after decades of decline.
It now represents about 8.4 per cent of the Australian workforce – a slight increase over the previous year.
Yet we are still being told (particularly by the union movement) that the manufacturing sector is battling to survive.
Companies hard hit by the strong Aussie dollar, rising energy prices and cheap local imports desperately need assistance, they say.
Though it may be too early to declare a full recovery, there are certainly some positive signs.
It is fair to say manufacturing is changing, rather than declining.
While traditional heavy manufacturing and primary metal manufacturing continue to decline, other industry sectors are on the rise.
Heavy manufacturing shed 18,000 jobs last year and food manufacturing added 17,000 new ones.
The latest job growth was in NSW, which has overtaken Victoria as the largest manufacturing state in employment terms. NSW now employs 317,000 manufacturing workers compared to 283,000 south of the border.
On the flip side, manufacturing activity continues to contract.
The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (Australian PMI ) – a reliable barometer for industry health – paints a more gloomy picture.
On a more positive note, China’s economy is showing signs of renewed strength. This powerful manufacturing sector is now performing at its best levels in almost two years – a positive sign that the Chinese economy is on the rise.
So have we turned the corner?
Only time will tell.
We look forward to the new year with much optimism.