MANUFACTURERS are creating jobs at their fastest pace for nearly three years as the sector continues its resurgence.
Companies are taking on more workers to meet rising demand, with production levels increasing for an eleventh successive month in February.
A report, from the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index PMI survey, said the sector hit 56.9 last month, well above 50 used to signal growth.
The results were welcomed by EEF manufacturers' organisation bosses, who expect the industry to expand at its fastest pace for four years in 2014.
The Markit results said levels of recruitment were at a 33-month high in February, with new export business rising and increased work from the US, China, the Middle-East and Africa.
The survey comes as North-East manufacturing firms look to bolster their position in the sector.
Last week, the AMA Group, in Peterlee, east Durham, revealed it was creating more than 100 jobs by bringing clothing making back to the region, with car door handle and bumper bracket maker Nifco, in Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, unveiling job plans as it pushes to increase turnover to £75m by 2016.
Rob Dobson, Markit senior economist, said the industry's continued improvement was providing a major boost to the economy.
He said: “These results suggest we should expect another quarter of robust economic growth in the year's opening quarter.
“Manufacturing ticked higher in February, providing welcome reassurance, and the growth of production and new orders lost only a little momentum.
“This mini-renaissance is also driving the sharpest job creation since the middle of 2011, which will support the broader economic recovery through improved consumer confidence and spending.
“Overseas contracts should also remain a spur to growth as conditions in key markets, such as the US and the Eurozone improve further.”
Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist, said while the market was buoyed by the results, the Government had to use its forthcoming Budget to maintain the momentum.
She said: “Manufacturing continues to expand at a robust pace and the strong job creation highlights the strength of demand in the domestic market.
“The solid gains in export also offers encouragement production will continue to rise at a healthy clip, and we expect the UK's manufacturing output to increase by 2.7 per cent over 2014, the fastest rate in four years.
“However, to keep this going, it's essential the Budget builds on improving sentiment to support companies’ investment decisions.”