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Corona Crisis Metalworking Industry in Austria - Crises Lead to Historic Slump

Editor: Nicole Kareta

Already in September, the situation report for the Austrian metalworking industry painted a picture shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis: A historic slump in production set the industry back by years. Since then, there has been no clear recovery in sight.

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The metal processing industry is Austria's strongest sector, which is expected to suffer a sharp decline as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic problems.
The metal processing industry is Austria's strongest sector, which is expected to suffer a sharp decline as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic problems.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pixabay )

The latest data for the first five months of the year show production down 19.6 %, new orders down 26.5 %, exports down 15.8 % and employment down 4.1 %. Christian Knill, chairman of the Metallurgical Industry Association (Fachverband Metalltechnische Industrie): "We already saw clear impacts of the pandemic in the first months of 2020. But the resulting global economic crisis is wreaking havoc on a historic scale, as current forecasts for the fall and next year show." Current flash surveys among companies as well as the WIFO economic test for the industry reveal a bleak outlook. According to the flash survey, production will fall by 21 % in the third quarter and by around 19 % in the fourth quarter. For 2020 as a whole, companies expect production values to fall by 19.5 % on average. The slow recovery that is now beginning leads companies to currently expect growth of around 11 % on average for 2021, but this would only make up for half of the slump.

"The corona crisis sets our industry back more than 10 years. Currently, we expect production levels in 2021 to be the same as they were in 2010. Even if measures such as the corona short-time work help to maintain employment now, we have to expect major problems for the companies and subsequently for jobs in the coming months and years," said Knill.

In September, about 50 % of the companies made use of corona short-time work, with about 42,000 employees being affected. Since October, about 25 % of companies have used short-time work, according to data from a flash survey. In October, around 27 % of companies expected to reduce their workforce in the next three months.

The metalworking industry is Austria's strongest sector. "We are in an absolutely exceptional situation and must find our way out of this crisis together," concluded Knill.

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