New data shows that the UK's manufacturing sector is continuing to grow, with one of the industry's strongest performances for more than two decades recorded.
A new report released by Markit indicated that production was increased in May in order to meet demand, although the overall reading was slightly down in May to 57.0 from 57.3.
Any figure over 50 denotes growth for the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), indicating that the industry is in a strong position at the present time.
"Sustaining the rebound and continuing to push towards rebalancing the UK economy towards manufacturing therefore remains critical. On those scores the latest survey provides some real positives," said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit.
The study also revealed that manufacturers across the UK have been taking on new staff in the last month in order to cope with the extra demands placed on them in May.
Consumer goods, machinery and equipment were among the areas where particularly strong areas of growth were recorded within the manufacturing sector during the month.
Factory production remains 7.5 per cent smaller than its pre-crisis peak, according to the new PMI report, although it is growing at a quarterly rate close to 1.5 per cent.
As manufacturing is believed to make up about ten per cent of the UK's economy, the sector's health is typically linked closely to the state of the economy overall. The manufacturing industry was particularly badly hit by the global financial slowdown, but has shown strong levels of recovery in recent months, boosting the economy as a whole.
Responding to the PMI data, manufacturing industry body the EEF stated that the figures show "the important role being played by industry in the UK's continuing recovery".
Neil Prothero, deputy chief economist at EEF, said: "The sector is firmly on track to expand for a fifth consecutive quarter, its strongest performance in four years. Signs of a pick-up in export orders are especially welcome."
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