Fastest growth on record for England’s businesses

A MAJOR survey of English firms recorded record growth across the country during October, suggesting that the economy’s recent swing back to growth continued into the start of the fourth quarter.

Lloyds’ regional purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for last month found businesses reporting the fastest increase in business activity seen since the survey began in 2001. The headline PMI number hit 61.8, soaring above the neutral 50 mark.

According to the firms surveyed, job creation and increased investment are following in the wake of a more buoyant economy: the part of the index that measures employment has reached a historical high.

Though the strongest growth was recorded in London, five of England’s nine regions saw the most rapid hike in new business in over a decade. Even the north east of England, which once again saw the weakest growth, was expanding at a robust pace, with a PMI score of 55.3. Another survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) adds to a picture of broad-based growth, showing small and medium-sized (SME) manufacturers at their most optimistic in a quarter of a century.

Small manufacturers reported strong growth in new orders in the last three months, with even more expected to come in the quarter ahead. Domestic orders alone hit their highest level since 1995, according to the companies’ responses.

The CBI added to reports that the labour market appears to be firming: 14 per cent more SMEs now expect to boost their employee numbers in the next three months than think they will cut back on staff.