Quarterly Economic Survey Q2 2018: Humber firms cautiously positive in Quarter 2
THE Chamber’s economic survey results for the second quarter of 2018 reveals a general steadying of nerves in the domestic markets, while the export sector has recovered some its lost ground in the last six months.
Research by the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce shows that domestic sales increased slightly, with the balance figure rising by three points, while the domestic orders figures also increased slightly,.
The international sector has fared better this quarter, with export sales recovering to the levels of quarter four in 2017, with export orders also returning to positive territory.
Employment in the last three months was less buoyant in quarter two, with 76 per cent of firms saying their staffing levels remained constant, with only 10 per cent of companies having tried to recruit new staff.
It’s a similar story for the next quarter too, with 71 per cent of firms expecting their staffing levels to remain the same, with only 24 per cent expecting to recruit new people, down from 33 per cent in quarter one.
Of those who did try to recruit, there was a slight increase in the number of firms looking to fill full-time permanent positions, although part-time and temporary roles were also up, but by a smaller amount.
Fewer firms were trying to recruit for managerial roles, but skilled manual jobs, clerical and unskilled or semi-skilled roles all saw an increase in demand, contributing to the lowest employment figures the region has seen for some years.
Cashflow was feeling the squeeze, with the balance figure falling by three per cent to 19.
Investment in plant and machinery was up slightly, with the balance figure increasing by two points, but remaining in negative territory at –6.
The number of businesses looking to invest in training was on the up this quarter, with the balance figure increasing by 13 points to 15.
Turnover and profit expectations were also showing signs of optimism for the next three months, with the number of companies reporting they expected to see their turnover increase rising by 21 points to a balance of 52.
Expectations for rising profits in the next three months were more measured, with a rise in the balance figure of 11 points over the previous quarter.
Fewer companies were working at full capacity, and fewer companies were expecting to increase their prices, compared to the last quarter.
The biggest price pressures were pay settlements, followed by raw material costs and access to finance.
Exchange rates and competition were the biggest concerns in the second quarter, followed by business rates.
Chamber Chief Executive, Dr Ian Kelly, said: “After the stark results in the first quarter of the year, this latest set of figures redresses the balance somewhat and strikes a more cautiously optimistic tone.
“It is good to see the export sector in the Humber recovering to a more even position and a slight uplift in the home markets is also welcome.
“Expectations of increased turnover and profit augurs well as the year progresses although these are somewhat offset by fears over increased pay rises, exchange rate concerns and a dip in cashflow”.
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