5th August 2013: Regional Round-Up

A snapshot of key regional datasets released this month

Data published in July shows that business activity in both manufacturing and services is showing sustained growth. This is encouraging although labour market outcomes have yet to benefit fully from this revival. These trends are prevalent across the UK although Northern Ireland still lags the other regions. In contrast, South East is recording the most favourable performance across a range of indicators.

  • The Lloyds TSB/Markit PMI index of private sector activity shows that the trend of rising activity seen in the regions in the last few months is continuing. Apart from Yorkshire & the Humber and East Midlands, all regions saw activity rise in July. London, North West and South West saw the index hit its strongest level in two years while the Scottish index was at a level not seen in six years. New orders ¡V indicative of future growth ¡V picked up in all English regions. This month¡¦s results are encouraging, not only because of the high index readings, but also because they build on the positive trend that emerged earlier in the year.
  • ONS official labour market statistics show that employment growth in the three months to May slowed compared to earlier in the year. North East, West Midlands and East of England suffered job losses in this period while most other regions recorded negligible changes in either direction. Only South East saw a reasonable increase in employment numbers (of 25,000). Taking a look at the broader trend, only East Midlands, North East and Northern Ireland have employment levels still lower than a year ago. North East still has the highest rate of unemployment in the country that crept up to 10.4% in the three months to May.
  • The 2013q2 BCC Quarterly Economic Survey for manufacturing firms shows positive balances across the regions for domestic sales and for export orders. Apart from East of England and Wales, employment expectations are also positive. Exceptionally encouraging are high balances for confidence in profitability and turnover in manufacturing firms across all UK regions. The parallel survey of service sector firms shows similarly positive balances across all regions with the notable exception of Scotland where balances are still negative on a range of key indicators.
  • GFK’s consumer confidence index shows that sentiment across the country improved in July. South East recorded the fastest recovery in confidence with the sentiment index also topping the regional league table. Scotland and Wales stand out as the only two regions where confidence deteriorated in the month. The confidence index, despite edging up, still remains negative in all regions.
  • Experian’s construction index for June was dragged back by a weak performance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland while, in contrast, the English regions recorded an expansion in construction activity.

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