Hiring intentions in the South West are higher than the national average, with a net balance of 31 percent of firms expecting to recruit more staff during the next year, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Companies in the South West also expect a median annual increase in average pay of one to two per cent during 2018, says the report.
Firms reported slightly lower than average business prospects at 38 percent, but marginally higher than average economic optimism at 32 percent.
Overall business confidence in the region is in line with the national average at 35 percent.
Nationally, overall confidence has risen seven points to a nine-month high of 35 percent, driven mainly by a rise in firms’ economic optimism.
The Business Barometer provides early signals about UK economic trends and has been run monthly since January 2002. This is the first time that the survey, which questioned 1,200 businesses, has been carried out on a regional as well as national basis.
Andrew Kemp, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Firms in the South West started the year positively, with business confidence matching the UK average and solid hiring intentions for the year ahead.
“I’d hope to see businesses capitalise on this confidence during the first quarter, laying a solid foundation for growth in the next 12 months.”
South West businesses’ economic optimism (32 percent) is higher than the national average of 31 percent.
Meanwhile, their confidence in their own business prospects (38 percent) is one point lower than across the UK as a whole.
Across the region, a net balance of just seven per cent of businesses feel that the UK’s exit from the European Union is having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity.