Modest improvements in output and new orders were recorded, and employment increased at a solid pace. However, there were more signs of business sentiment slipping amid Brexit uncertainty.
The headline NatWest Yorkshire & Humber Business Activity Index – a seasonally adjusted index that measures month-on-month changes in the combined output of the region’s manufacturing and service sectors – rose to 51.7 in August, up from 51.0 in July.
This signalled a modest increase in output across the region’s private sector. Only the East of England posted a faster expansion of activity in the 12 monitored UK regions.
Richard Topliss, chair of NatWest North Regional Board, said: “The Yorkshire & Humber region remained one of the bright spots in the UK economy during August, posting one of the sharpest rises in activity and the strongest optimism of the 12 regions covered by the survey.
“This was good news for the local labour market, with companies creating jobs at a pace unsurpassed anywhere else in the UK.“
He said that although Brexit and related economic uncertainty weighed on new order growth and sentiment in August, the region’s companies seem better able than most to weather the challenging market conditions.
The survey showed that output has risen over the past 37 months, with growth recorded across both the manufacturing and service sectors. Anecdotal evidence linked higher output to increases in new orders.
New business increased for the fifth month running in August amid reports of the securing of new clients and general improvements in customer demand. That said, the rate of expansion softened amid Brexit uncertainty. The rise in new orders in the region contrasted with a fractional decline at the UK level.