Bulletin – June Quarter 2016 Conditions in the Manufacturing Sector Abstract

Manufacturing output and employment have fallen steadily as a share of the Australian economy for the past three decades. This article looks at the composition of the sector and draws on the Reserve Bank's liaison with manufacturers to provide an insight into some of their responses to the structural challenges in recent years. According to liaison, the increase in the supply of manufactured goods from low-cost sources abroad, exacerbated by the appreciation of the Australian dollar during the period of rising commodity prices, impaired the viability of many domestic manufacturers and precipitated the closure of some manufacturing production over the past decade. While the recent exchange rate depreciation has helped to improve competitiveness of Australian producers, so far there is only limited evidence of a recovery in manufacturing output and investment.