The output of Irish factories and manufacturing employment slid at their fastest rates since the banking and property crash 11 years ago and will likely fall again, as the effects of the lockdowns across many countries weigh further on orders, according to a major survey.
The monthly AIB Purchasing Managers’ Index showed that there was “a sudden, severe downturn” in Irish manufacturing in March as the key components of the index — output, new orders, and exports — dropped at their fastest rates since early 2009.
Worse, the survey found that Irish purchasing managers registered negative output expectations for the first time since the survey started in the summer of 2012.
The main index posted a reading of just over 45 down from 51.2 in February, where a reading of 50 marks the difference between expansion and contraction in manufacturing.
“Further sharp falls in the PMI are likely over the next couple of months — the Irish index troughed at below 35 during the last recession in 2008-09,” said AIB chief economist Oliver Mangan.
He said a collapse in new orders meant that more output declines were “on the cards”.
The survey found that employment levels, which had started to decline in recent months, fell at their fastest rate since July 2009.
“Firms reported adjusting workforces to reflect a lack of activity, new orders, and cancelled projects,” according to the survey.
The Irish PMI survey is closely watched across the world because of the mix of multinationals based in Ireland producing for world markets.
It comes as European shares clawed back some of their huge losses after China’s index suggested manufacturing had unexpectedly grown in March, and not contracted.