Here's some good news: the mechanical engineering industries recorded a 3.9 % increase in sales in 2010, to 101.2 billion euros. This turnaround is all the more spectacular given that the first half of 2010 had been difficult, with activity down on 2009, which had been a very bad year (15 % down on 2008, a record year). Thanks to this turnaround, the mechanical engineering industry is now back where it was in 2005-2006.
The automotive, aerospace, rail and nuclear sectors were the main growth drivers for the mechanical engineering industries in 2010.
In the detailed figures released by the Fédération des Industries Mécaniques, it is worth noting France's export performance: + 9.4 % (to 41.2 billion euros) compared to 2009. There are sectors in which France does not fare so badly...
However, there are still some shadows in the picture. The mechanical engineering industry, France's largest industrial employer, saw its workforce fall by 4.8 % in 2010 to 620,000 employees (representing around 20 % of industrial employment). Today, the decline has been halted, and forecasts for 2011 are more optimistic given the upturn in activity that began and was confirmed in 2010.
For 2011, the rebound in activity should be confirmed for the various mechanical engineering professions (agricultural machinery should pick up again). And an increase of 5 % is expected.
FIM believes that our manufacturers are being penalized, and calls on the public authorities to take strong measures in several priority areas. Most of these are well known: reducing the cost of labor (and in particular certain social charges), simplifying the administrative system, moderating the rise in electricity prices, abolishing the wealth tax (many companies are owned by their directors, who would prefer to invest), and encouraging private individuals to invest in industry.
Finally, it should be remembered that the mechanical engineering industries represent around 11,000 companies with 10 employees, breaking down into 45.6 % in the transformation industries, 44.9 % in equipment supply and 9.5 % in precision industries (optics, measuring instruments, healthcare).