The North-South Divide and Margaret Thatcher, by Kim, Changhyun, Oct 2005

The Decline of Manufacturing

In 1948, 7.3 million was employed in manufacturing. The number reached 8.1 million by the 1950s and just below 8.6 million by 1966, near the peak of regional policy. It started declining after that and was 7.1 million in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to office. From 1979 on, manufacturing employment declined rapidly, reaching 4.4 million by 1993.
For instance, ICI, Britain's biggest industrial company, cut its UK workforce from 89,400 in 1979 to 61,800 by 1983, and further to 55,800 by 1987. GKN which was Britain's biggest manufacturing company in the 1930s, slashed the number of its UK employees between 1979 to 1983 by 70%. Lucas, which manufactures automotive and aerospace products, had nearly 70,000 UK employees in 1979, but by 1983, it had 50,000, and by 1987, it had 40,000. These examples are rather drastic cases, but there are many companies that closed entirely.
Decline of manufacturing hit the North much harder than it did the South. This is not to say that the North lost a greater number of manufacturing jobs than the South did. But the North was more reliant on manufacturing than the South, and Northern manufacturing was hit harder than Southern manufacturing.
All regions with high dependence on manufacturing suffered major losses of industrial activity and employment. Most major British manufacturing regions, such as the Northwest and Yorkshire-Humberside, were in the northern half of the UK. Not only was the percentage of workforce employed in manufacturing higher in the North, the decline of manufacturing was proportionately severe in the North than in the South. From 1979 to 1990, manufacturing employment fell on average 2.8% a year in the North but only 2.4% a year in the South. Part of this gap is attributable to the fact that multi-regional companies closed their peripheral branches first, which was exacerbated by Margaret Thatcher's reduction of regional policy. End of subsidies for factories located in less developed regions, which were primarily in the North, caused some of the factories to be shut down. Another factor is that the North had an unfavorable mix of manufacturing industries compared to the South; the industries that were hit especially severly tended to be concentrated in the North.
Even in the oil industry, the rate of growth in employment was higher in the South than in the North. From 1979 to 1990, the number of workers working in the oil industry grew on average 7.1% a year in the South but grew only 4.8% a year in the North.

Kim, Changhyun
December 2005

I used the following sources in addition to the sources I used for Thatcherism

North-South Divide in the United Kingdom, from Wikipedia
Economic Geography of the United Kingdom, from Wikipedia
REFERENCE The following books were used in addition to the books I used for Thatcherism

Smith, North and South: Britain's Economic Social and Political Divide, Penguin Books, 1994, 375 pages
Harrison and Hart, Spatial Policy in a Divided Nation, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1993, 304 pages
Cairncross, The British Economy Since 1945, Blackwell Publishers, 1994, 338 pages