The number of manufacturing facilities and employees nationwide has decreased for six years in a row after peaking in 1991, according to an annual report issued Tuesday by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

As of Dec. 31, there were 170,000 manufacturing facilities, down by 2.1 percent from a year earlier, and 8.78 million people employed in the sector, down 1.4 percent.

Due to ongoing corporate restructuring and the April 1997 consumption tax increase, shipments and value-added revenues had increased for three consecutive years as of the end of last year, MITI officials said. But the gap between shipments, worth 309 trillion yen, and revenues, which totaled 113 trillion yen, indicates the manufacturing sector suffers from sluggish earnings, they said.

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