West Midlands industry is facing an unrelentingly bleak picture, according to an industrial trends regional breakdown by the CBI and Experian.
In a national survey that recorded the steepest decline in new orders in two years, the West Midlands fared worse than any other British region except the North West.
Another steep decline in export orders drove the region's total orders down for the fourth quarterly survey in a row.
Gloomy West Midlands industrialists fear another marked decline in the coming months - while their counterparts elsewhere are looking for a slight improvement and to hold their own in exports.
Overall business confidence in April fell more in the West Midlands than in any other region.
Confidence in the outlook for exports worsened for the eleventh survey running.
Inevitably, the region's output fell heavily - for a fourth survey. The decline was much sharper than that expected in February and the most severe since 1999. The best that can be said is that local employers expect only a modest further decline in the coming months.
So far the impact on jobs has been fairly limited, but employers expect a severe shake-out in the coming months.
Their investment intentions - for both buildings and plant and machinery - remain deeply negative. Uncertainty about demand is the reason most frequently given for holding back.
Costs rose very steeply for the fifth successive survey, but West Midlands companies did manage to cushion the impact on their margins by passing on some of the increase to their customers in the home market. Industrialists expect a similar pattern to prevail in the months ahead.
At the UK level, the fall in new orders was the sharpest for two years, and there is widespread evidence across several regions of a difficult environment for manufacturing characterised by weak orders, rising costs, falling output and job losses.
Three regions - Northern Ireland and the North West along with the West Midlands - bore the brunt of the weak demand that has emerged in recent months, with declines in business confidence and export optimism much steeper than the UK average.
Engineering suffered severely in the West Midlands, as did textiles and chemicals in the North West.
Outside these hard-hit regions, output trends were less gloomy. In several regions, declines in the last few months have been quite small and in Wales, the South West and the North East, output actually showed a very slight increase.
While the loss of manufacturing jobs has moderated across much of the United Kingdom over the past 18 months, compared with 2002 and 2003, it continues unabated in the South-east and London, the East Midlands, the East of England and Northern Ireland.
Along with the West Midlands, these four regions are much more pessimistic about the employment outlook than the rest of the UK.