North West firms see job creation hit 20 month high – but weak pound is pushing up costs

According to the Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking North West Regional Business Activity PMI an increase in orders and business activity among firms in the region is underpinning the rise. Tony McDonough reports.

North West firms are seeing a rise in orders and are taking on more people

Job creation in the North West it at its highest level for 20 months, new research shows.

According to the Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking North West Regional Business Activity PMI an increase in orders and business activity among firms in the region is underpinning the rise.

The index recorded a reading of 58.1 in January, up from 56.6 in December. A reading of above 50 signals growth, while a reading of below 50 signals contraction.

A rise in new orders boosted the output of goods and services, which increased at the strongest rate since October 2016.

As a result of rising workloads, businesses across the North West continued to create new jobs, with employment rising at the quickest rate since May 2015.

However, the weakness of sterling continued to put pressure on companies in the North West, with input prices – including raw materials, utilities and wages – rising at the sharpest rate since April 2011.

Part of this higher cost burden was subsequently passed on to consumers, with prices charged increasing at the strongest rate in more than five-and-a-half years.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “North West businesses had a great start to 2017, with business activity and new orders growing at the fastest rates in three months.

“This had a positive impact on employment in the region, with the rate of job creation reaching a 20-month high.

“However, the weakness of sterling continued to put pressure on firms, contributing to a substantial rise in average prices charged for goods and services.”

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