Employment and order books boost

Businesses across the North West continued to create new jobs in the month before the General Election – boosted by an increase in new orders, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Regional PMI index.

Firms in the region hired extra staff for the eighth consecutive month as demand for their goods and services increased faster than the UK average, despite the political uncertainty.

Business activity grew in line with the UK average, but slower than the month before, with North West PMI reading at 54.3 in May down from April’s 56.5. A reading above 50 signifies growth in business activity, a reading below signals decline.

Input costs, such as the price of raw materials and wages, increased for the sixteenth month running. Cost pressures were passed on to customers in the form of higher prices.

Confidence remained strong in May and North West firms were more optimistic compared with the UK as a whole. Firms attributed this to planned investment and solid demand from clients.

The Lloyds Bank PMI, or Purchasing Managers’ Index, is the leading economic health-check of UK regions. It’s based on responses from manufacturing and services businesses about the amount of goods and services produced during May compared with a month earlier.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s reassuring to see that firms in the North West are continuing to win new business and create more jobs, while prices keep on rising.

“Despite the uncertainty caused by the general election firms were still confident in their outlook. With this in mind, firms should ensure they have the working capital available to best take advantage of the opportunities ahead.”

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