UK economic activity may be picking up as more firms currently plan to hire more staff over the next six months than at any time since late 2011, reports accountancy group BDO.
It reports that its employment index, which measures private firms hiring intentions, now stands at a 19-month high, after three consecutive months in which the survey has indicated expansion in private employment. However, most firms do not expect growth going forward.
BDO’s employment index reached 96.0 in March, its best reading since August 2011 and the third month that it has been above the 95.0 level that indicates employment growth.
However, its output and optimism indices, which measure short-term turnover expectations and business performance, remain below the growth level at 93.0 and 92.2 respectively.
BDO’s research also found that optimism in the manufacturing sector continued to decline, with its index falling to 88.2 this month from February’s 94.5. In the service sector, BDO’s research suggested confidence was improving, with its optimism index rising to 93.2 in April from February’s 89.6.
BDO partner Peter Hemington described the increase in firms’ hiring intentions as encouraging, but said the decline in confidence among manufacturers was worrying. “It was disappointing to see little action taken in last month’s budget to help this beleaguered sector,” he said.
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