Region sees strongest growth since 2013
THE strongest rate of growth in seven-and-a-half years has been reported by the region’s businesses as Yorkshire and the Humber surges back. Analysis for NatWest’s seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index monitored the sharpest rise in new business since October 2013.
It keeps Yorkshire and Humber at the forefront of the coronavirus recovery, with the quickest step change across all 12 regions.
The index, based in the combined output of the manufacturing and service sectors, registered 60.2 in March, up from 51.8 in February.
It was the quickest expansion since last August as lockdown shackles briefly lifted. Improvement in demand conditions due to imminent relaxation of restrictions was cited.
Richard Topliss, chairman of NatWest North regional board, said: “Latest PMI data suggested that the recovery in economic conditions across Yorkshire & Humber gathered pace in March. The region topped the UK rankings for new business growth, job creation and expectations on future activity, as firms prepared for a release of pent-up demand that has been building amid Covid-19 restrictions.
“The one worry was a further acceleration in input cost inflation, as global raw material shortages drove prices higher. However, six of the other 11 monitored regions of the UK saw sharper increases than in Yorkshire and Humber.
“Looking forward, March’s surge in new orders should feed through into further rises in activity, and with sentiment staying close to record highs, there is every chance the upward momentum can continue well into the summer.”
Following record confidence levels in the region in February, there was little-change in expectations towards the 12-month business outlook in March. Over 77 per cent of panellists anticipate a rise in output over the coming year, while less than 4 per cent forecast a contraction. In line with the trend for new business, optimism was the strongest across any of the 12 covered UK regions.
Both covered sub-sectors reported higher staff numbers, although the increase was sharper at service providers. The overall rate job creation outpaced that in any of the other 11 regions of the UK.
Work outstanding at Yorkshire and Humber businesses increased for the first time in three months during March. Moreover, the rate of accumulation was the fastest since the end of 2017 and solid overall.