The group said machine tools orders plummeted a massive 40 percent in December 2008 compared to a year earlier as the global downturn slammed German engineering firms that depend heavily on exports for their business.
“The fourth quarter of 2008 was the worst quarterly result since 1958,” VDMA President Manfred Wittenstein said at a press conference on Tuesday.
He warned the dire economic conditions would have a dramatic impact on the sector, which is an important backbone of the German economy. The VDMA estimated machinery firms would eliminate some 25,000 jobs in 2009 alone.
“We have to expect the loss of tens of thousands positions this year due to increasing insolvencies,” Wittenstein said.
Despite the grim slide in the last three months of 2008, the VDMA still said the year was a good one for the sector overall. Turnover of machinery equipment – often used to produce industrial and consumer goods – rose eight percent to €205 billion and exports rose to a new record of €174 billion. The sector also created some 40,000 new jobs in 2008.