Originally posted on 23 Dec 2013

The main findings from the English Business Survey for October 2013 were published last week.

This statistical release provides timely intelligence on business conditions in England, presenting key messages from the English Business Survey (EBS). The EBS interviews around 3,000 workplaces each month providing an assessment of past, current and future business and economic conditions. The data refers to business conditions in October 2013, which is the reference month for the survey. The release focuses on changes in business activity and employment levels, with statistics on a range of variables contained in the fifteen supplementary tables that accompany the release.

Key Points:

·       In England and its regions the latest EBS results are positive with businesses reporting increases in output and employment when compared to July 2013, with balance estimates of +27% and +10%, respectively. This was true for all sectors in England, apart from Construction where more businesses reported employment levels in October 2013 were lower than in July, resulting in a balance score of -7%.

·       All regions had positive balance score estimates for output and employment in October 2013. Balance scores for output ranged from +34% in London to +21% in the South West, whilst balance scores for employment ranged from +18% in the West Midlands to +2% in the East of England.

·       When asked to compare output levels in October 2013 to October 2012, more businesses reported higher levels resulting in a balance 2 score of +34% in England, equivalent to estimates in September 2013. Across all regions, balance scores were positive, ranging from +42% in East of England to +27% in Yorkshire and The Humber.

·       Business expectations about future output and employment levels in January 2014 compared to October 2013 were positive in England. Across the regions, the results were mixed with 4 of the 9 regions reporting negative balance score estimates for both output and employment levels, respectively; North East (-9%, -2%), North West (- 12%, -7%), East Midlands (-5%, -3%) and South West (-2%, -2%).

Economic Context

This section provides contextual information on the economic performance over the survey period (October 2013) and in the preceding months to help the user to interpret the statistics.

·       Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 0.8% in Quarter 3 2013 compared with Quarter 2 2013. Compared with the same quarter a year ago, Quarter 3 2012, GDP was 1.5% higher in Quarter 3 2013.

·       The employment rate in the working age population (16-64) for August to October 2013 was 72.0%, up 0.4 percentage points from May to July 2013. There were 30.09 million people in employment, up 250,000 from May to July 2013.

·       The unemployment rate for August to October 2013 was 7.4%, down 0.3 percentage points from May to July 2013. The unemployment rate has become a more prominent economic indicator since the Bank of England announced, as part of its forward guidance that it does not intend to raise interest rates while the unemployment rate remains above 7%.

·       Annual inflation was estimated to have grown by 2.2% in the year to October 2013, down from 2.7% in September. This remains above the Bank of England target rate of 2.0%.

·       Retail Sales estimates for October 2013 compared to the same period the previous year showed that retail sales increased by 1.8%. Compared to the previous month retail sales declined by 0.7% in October 2013.

·       Construction output grew 2.2% in October 2013 when compared with September 2013. Comparing October 2013 with October 2012, the output of construction increased by 5.3%

The full ONS press release is here.

Martin Pollins
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