The latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) results published by North East England Chamber of Commerce showed strong recruitment figures from employers.
Almost two thirds of respondents aimed to recruit full-time staff (63.9%) with the overall workforce scores at the highest since 2015.
John McCabe, Chamber President said: “I have had the opportunity to see and hear first-hand how our members have continued to be ambitious in their growth plans and make such valuable contributions to the economy. This quarter’s survey results back up that positivity. We’ve seen growth domestically and in exports, while our region’s remarkable improvement in private sector employment looks set to continue.
“These survey results show that the region’s economy is entering 2018 in a strong position. However, we know there is much more we can do to improve our resilience and build an even stronger platform for growth. That is why the Chamber will continue to campaign for a Stronger North East and why it is so important for businesses of all shapes and sizes to join the cause and help our region fulfil its enormous potential.”
The final QES report for 2017 shows a continuation of the overall growth trend of the previous 12 months which was due primarily to solid growth in domestic sales and a strong turnaround in exports. Relative stability in currency markets has meant that concerns over exchange rate fluctuations have eased. However, this has been replaced by growing concern over inflation, reflecting the rise in CPI to 3% seen in December.
Business growth has given firms confidence to invest with plant investment in the final quarter of 2017 at its highest since the middle of 2015. Spending on training has also improved.
Manufacturers sudden decline in confidence of last quarter seems to have abated, with scores on workforce, profitability and turnover all up, although the service sector still remains at a higher percentage.
This QES report showed the main barrier to business success were considered to be the uncertainties surrounding Brexit in particular the impact on future planning and recruitment difficulties due to skill shortages or staff retention.
To support companies the Chamber is campaigning for a more Global North East in 2018, urging the Government to make progress towards a positive trade deal and frictionless borders with the EU.