Chamber survey shows confidence but more needs to be done for recovery
Although the challenges of a slow economy are still being felt, businesses in the region saw small improvements in a number of areas according to the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey.
The survey for Q3 which was conducted during August and September in partnership with Leeds University Business School saw 654 business owners or senior managers respond across the patch.
With companies and individuals choosing to pay down debt rather than spend, the uncertainty in domestic markets continues however, small gains in sales and orders were achieved by the service sector whilst manufacturers reported no change on the previous quarter.
Though troubles continue in the Eurozone this quarter sees a return to growth for international markets and the Chamber is seeing growth in trade for its members with markets across the Middle East and North Africa, especially Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Egypt.
The region is responding to the Government’s calls to the private sector to create jobs as the upward trend in employment for services and manufacturing continued; something which mirrors Office for National Statistics datasets which showed an increase of +0.5% in the national employment rate. Nearly a third of recruitment activity (29%) took place within the Financial and professional sector, just under a quarter (23%) in other services – largely IT and digital with 14% from the manufacturing sector.
When it comes to investment, the trend upward continues with modest gains in investment plans for plant, machinery and equipment in both manufacturing and service sector. Notably the service sector has not shown this level of activity since the end of 2010, likewise the manufacturing sector is approaching the level last seen in first half of 2011.
In contrast to the national picture from the British Chamber of Commerce, confidence with Leeds, York and North Yorkshire businesses is once again showing signs of improvement for both turnover and profitability; expectations not seen since 2010; this is encouraging considering last quarters large drops.
Mark Goldstone, Head of Business Representation and Policy at the Chamber commented:
“There are definitely some signs of improvement but as we’ve been saying for the last year the road back to growth has proved consistently choppy. Although exporters are reporting growth, more needs to be done to encourage businesses to look at overseas opportunities so we applaud the recent announcement by Government to invest more into UK Trade & Investment to help SMEs export. However, it all comes down to confidence, businesses invest for the long term and they need to have the confidence that decisions made today won’t be undermined by excessive market volatility or unanticipated consequences caused by the global inter-connectedness of the modern business and political world."
View the full report here.
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