Businesses in Yorkshire enjoyed an increase in new orders during March, as demand for their goods and services grew at the fastest pace since November 2013, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Regional PMI.
To meet the growth in demand, businesses took on staff at a faster rate than the UK average, marking the seventh consecutive month of employment growth in the region.
Yorkshire’s business activity PMI registered at 57.2, up from 55.3 in February. A reading above 50 signals growth in business activity, whereas a reading below signals decline.
The pace of increase in activity was the third-quickest experienced in the country, coming close behind the North West (57.5). The East of England saw the fastest increase in business activity, the PMI registering at 58.0.
Meanwhile, higher commodity and import prices resulted in input costs for Yorkshire firms increasing for the twelfth month running. However, the pace of inflation did slow to the slowest since November last year.
Companies continued to pass on this rise in costs to customers, with the prices charged for goods and services increasing for the fourteenth consecutive month and at the fastest pace in almost nine years.
Leigh Taylor, regional director for Yorkshire at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Yorkshire was one of the best performing regions during March, with increases in new business wins, output and employment showing the current strength of the region’s economy.
“Easing cost inflation is reassuring to see; however, cost pressures remain a large burden for firms, which are increasing prices at the fastest rate since 2008. Businesses need to ensure inflationary pressures don’t drive them to price-out customers and lose business.”
Karan Sejpal, regional head, Yorkshire and North West at UBS Wealth Management, added: “The latest PMI reinforces what we’re seeing from our clients: the EU Referendum result has not, so far, dampened the buoyancy of local business activity.
"Businesses are taking a pragmatic approach as they await further clarity on the terms the government secures with the EU. In fact, a recent survey of our clients in Yorkshire showed that eight in 10 feel confident about growth in the region this year, making Yorkshire the most optimistic region in the UK on the outlook for local economic growth.”
The Lloyds Bank Regional PMI, or purchasing managers index is the leading economic health-check of the UK regions. It’s based on responses from manufacturers and services businesses about the amount of goods and services produced during March compared with a month earlier.