Index of Production, UK: February 2017

Movements in the volume of production for the UK production industries: manufacturing, mining and quarrying, energy supply, and water and waste management. Figures are seasonally adjusted.

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This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
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Release date:
7 April 2017

Next release:
11 May 2017

1. Main points

  • In the 3 months to February 2017, manufacturing increased by 2.1% (unchanged from the 3 months to January 2017), continuing its strongest growth since May 2010 – total production was estimated to have increased by 1.6%, with manufacturing providing the largest contribution.

  • The transport equipment sector provided the largest contribution to the manufacturing increase, along with smaller upwards contributions from a range of other manufacturing industries.

  • In February 2017, total production decreased by 0.7% compared with January 2017 with falls in all four main sectors, with electricity and gas providing the largest downward contribution, decreasing by 3.4%.

  • The monthly decrease in electricity and gas was largely due to falls in both electricity generation and in the supply and distribution of gas and gaseous fuels; this was largely attributable to the temperature in February 2017 being 1.6 degrees Celsius warmer than average.

  • Total production output for February 2017 compared with February 2016 increased by 2.8%, with growth in three of the four main sectors, with manufacturing providing the largest contribution, increasing by 3.3%.

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2. Things you need to know about this release

The Index of Production (IoP) is an important economic indicator and one of the short-term measures of economic activity in the UK. It is used in the compilation of gross domestic product (GDP); the production industries’ weight accounts for 14.6% of the output approach to the measurement of GDP.

The IoP measures the UK output in the mining and quarrying; manufacturing; energy supply; and water supply and waste management industries. The IoP estimates are mainly based on the Monthly Business Survey (MBS) of approximately 6,000 businesses. For the mining and quarrying and energy supply sectors, and two manufacturing industries namely coke and refined petroleum, and basic iron and steel, we receive volume data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the International Steel Statistics Bureau (ISSB) respectively. Unless otherwise stated, all estimates included in this release are based on seasonally adjusted data. The current price non-seasonally adjusted estimates of industries collected by the MBS can be found in today’s (7 April 2017) publication of TOPSI: Production and services turnover.

As part of the Short-term Economic Indicators theme day, IoP produces the proportion of turnover from exports, by industry. Level of exports (£ millions) is published in TOPSI. However, this is not always comparable with UK trade statistics, for a number of reasons. These include, but are not limited to:

  • different data sources – IoP and TOPSI are based on a survey of businesses; UK Trade in Goods uses administrative data collected by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • different concepts being measured – IoP reports the value of exports as a proportion of the industry's turnover; UK trade in goods reports the change in ownership between the UK and other countries
  • time lag – there can be time lags between the sale of a product reported in IoP and the movements of that product reported by UK trade

Further information on UK trade and how their data are compiled can be found in the Things you need to know section of the UK trade release.

This release has a revisions period back to January 2017. Revisions can be made for a variety of reasons, the most common include:

  • late responses to surveys and administrative sources, or changes to original returns
  • forecasts being replaced by actual data
  • revisions to seasonal adjustment factors, which are re-estimated every month and reviewed annually This revisions period is consistent with the National Accounts revisions policy.

Care should be taken when using the month-on-month growth rates as data can often be volatile; longer-term growth rates and examination of the time series allow for better interpretation of the statistics.

Summary information can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information report.

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3. Index of Production (IoP) main figures and the longer-term trend

Table 1 shows the growth rates and contributions for the Index of Production (IoP) and main sectors for February 2017. The monthly estimate of total production decreased by 0.7%. All four production sectors contributed towards the fall, with electricity and gas providing the largest downwards contribution.

The 3 months-on-previous 3 months estimate of total production increased by 1.6% in February 2017, with increases in three of the four main sectors. The largest contribution came from manufacturing, which increased by 2.1%, unchanged from a growth of 2.1% in the 3 months to January 2017.

Figures 1 and 2 show that both the Index of Production and Index of Manufacturing followed a broadly upward trend following the economic downturn. Growth was more pronounced from the beginning of 2010, as the economy recovered, before a slight downturn during 2012. Since then, both production and manufacturing output have steadily risen but remain well below their level reached in the pre-downturn gross domestic product (GDP) peak in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2008 by 6.7% and 3.0% respectively in the 3 months to February 2017.

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4. What is contributing to the 3 months-on-previous 3 months increase?

In the 3 months-on-previous 3 months to February 2017, total production was estimated to have increased by 1.6%, following an increase of 1.9% in the 3 months to January 2017.

Manufacturing provided the largest contribution to the increase, with growth of 2.1% (Table 2) unchanged from an increase of 2.1% in the 3 months to January 2017, continuing the recent strength displayed by this sector.

The growth was broad-based across 10 of the 13 manufacturing sub-sectors. The largest contribution to the increase came from transport equipment, which rose by 3.4%. Within this sub-sector, motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers increased by 4.7%.

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5. What is contributing to the month-on-month decrease?

The monthly estimate of total production decreased by 0.7% in February 2017 (Table 3), following a decrease of 0.3% in the previous month. All four main sectors decreased; the largest downward contribution came from electricity and gas, which fell by 3.4%.

The largest contribution to the fall in electricity and gas came from the supply of gas and gaseous fuels, decreasing by 6.4%. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) advised that the decrease in gas was possibly caused by milder temperatures in February 2017. February 2017 was the ninth warmest February since 1910, with the temperature increasing from 3.9 degrees Celsius in January 2017 to 5.3 degrees Celsius (Met Office). Over the longer term, demand in gas has increased as a result of increased gas use instead of coal for the purpose of generating electricity (BEIS Energy Trends, UK energy statistics).

Within the manufacturing sector, the decrease of 0.1% is mainly attributable to pharmaceuticals, which fell by 4.4% and can be highly erratic due to the timing of contracts.

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6. What is contributing to the month-on-same-month a year ago increase?

Total production increased by 2.8% in February 2017 compared with February 2016; three of the four main sectors provided upwards contributions (Table 4). The largest contribution came from manufacturing, which increased by 3.3%, following an increase of 2.6% in the previous period.

The manufacturing growth was largely broad-based with increases in 9 of the 13 sub-sectors. Transport equipment provided the largest contribution, increasing by 10.2% and was the strongest growth since August 2015, when it rose by 10.7%. Within this sub-sector, the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers rose by 14.4% compared with February 2016. Increased exports were reported compared with domestic turnover in the Monthly Business Survey, published in Turnover in Production and Services Industries, February 2017.

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8. What’s new?

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published Energy Trends on 30 March 2017; the publication covers new data for the fourth quarter of 2016 and provisional annual data for 2016.

Short-term indicators economic commentary was published alongside this release, presenting new information on economic conditions in February 2017, with data available for output in production, construction and the trade balance.

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9. Quality and methodology

The majority of data used to compile the manufacturing sector, and thus the Index of Production (IoP), is collected via the Monthly Business Survey (MBS). The MBS samples around 6,000 businesses every month. The data collected are turnover excluding Value Added Tax (VAT) and exports for some applicable industries. This data is then deflated using Producer Price Indices (PPI). Within the manufacturing sector we also receive direct volume data from: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for fuel industries and the International Steel Statistics Bureau (ISSB) for steel industries.

The mining and quarrying sector is mainly comprised of data from BEIS, including volume of oil and gas extraction and coal extraction. The data used to produce the energy sector is also from BEIS and includes energy and gas supply output. A comprehensive list of the IoP source data can be found in the GDP(O) source catalogue.

Within the suite of datasets published monthly alongside this release, you will find:

The TOPSI: Production and services turnover is published alongside this release, providing current price estimates for industries collected by the MBS.

The Index of Production Quality and Methodology Information document contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

A revised version of this document is available this month.

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