North West hiring intentions rise as confidence grows for second month

More firms in the North West are readying job creation plans after business confidence rose eight points during October to 12%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the North West report higher confidence in their business prospects, which rose 13 points to 20%, and higher economic optimism, which rose four points to 4%. Together, this gives an overall confidence reading of 12%.

Businesses’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of 10% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, up 13 points on last month.

Across the UK, overall confidence rose four points to 6% as firms’ confidence in their own prospects climbed two points to 15%.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide. This month’s survey was conducted before the government announced its new deal on the UK’s departure from the EU.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The North West has a robust economy and although ongoing economic uncertainty continues, businesses and individuals in the region remain resilient.

“With recent government figures showing that the growth of city regions like Liverpool now outpace the national average, it’s not surprising to see confidence in the North West rise for a second month.

“As firms continue to grow, we are here to help put their plans in place. That’s why we have committed to lend £1.3billion to businesses in the North West during 2019 as part of our ambition to help Britain prosper.”

Across the region, a net balance of 17% of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, down 12 points on last month’s figure.

Regional picture

Businesses in the West Midlands showed the most confidence, at 16%, ahead of the South West at 15%, and East Midlands (13%).

Those in Scotland were the least confident, with an overall confidence of -3%, nine points below the national average.

Sectors

Meanwhile, overall business confidence improved in all four broad sectors, with the largest increases being in the construction sector, which rose eight points to 18% and the manufacturing sector, which increased seven points to 5%.

Despite confidence in the services sector rising for the first time since June, by three points to 0%, overall confidence remained the weakest in this sector, while confidence in the retail sector saw a small increase of one point to 15%.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Both business confidence and optimism about the wider economy have picked up this month, with economic optimism reaching a three-month high as concerns about the impact of the UK leaving the EU eased. However, there was a slight step down in hiring intentions, which could reflect concerns about ongoing economic uncertainty.”

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