Yorkshire and Humber economy fares worst in report on UK regions

The Humber Bridge
The Humber Bridge -Credit:handout

The Yorkshire and Humber economy remains the worst performing in the UK, according to a monthly business survey.

The NatWest Yorkshire & Humber PMI Business Activity Index, which measures change in the region’s manufacturing and service sectors, rose slightly from 46.9 in March to 47.3 in April, but remains below the 50.0 mark which shows a growing economy. It meant the area remained the only part of the UK to see private sector output shrink at the start of the second quarter, bucking a national trend of recovery in the economy.

Yorkshire & Humber was the worst-performing part of the UK for both business activity and new orders, though business confidence levels remained strong. The survey also found that Yorkshire & Humber was one of just two parts of the UK to see a drop in new business, with the region also seeing the quickest fall. Many businesses cut their workforce numbers during the latest survey period, often through the non-replacement of leavers.

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Malcolm Buchanan, chair of the NatWest North Regional Board, said: “April marked yet another challenging month for the Yorkshire & Humber private sector, which was once again the only part of the UK to see a decrease in business activity. That said, April data was better with the rate of contraction slowing since March. Positively, growth expectations remain above UK trend and with economic conditions domestically and abroad improving, this should provide tailwinds for growth in the coming months.”

Further insights into the region’s economic health will come this week when official figures are released on levels of regional unemployment, while next week will see the latest inflation figures made public.

On Friday, the UK economy came out of recession with faster-than-expected growth over the first quarter of 2024. The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have risen by 0.6% between January and March. It came after two quarters of decline - which represents a technical recession - in the second half of 2023.