Posted by

Tom Nolan, Policy Adviser

07 Jan 2014

The Quarterly Economic Survey has been in existence for over 24 years and in that time it has consistently proven to be an accurate guide to how the economy is performing. The results are divided into manufacturing and services and covers businesses of all sizes. The latest results show improvements in most areas for both the sectors, and that all key balances are stronger than their long-term historical averages.

The manufacturing sector results were particularly strong. The last time we conducted the survey – in late summer 2013 – manufacturers reported a surprisingly large increase in activity and employment. At the time we were not sure if this was just a one-off; it is good to report that it was not. This quarter five key manufacturing balances are at all-time highs. These are domestic orders (+35%), employment (+33%), employment expectations (+31%), turnover confidence (+67%), and profitability confidence (+51%).

The service sector has been performing well for a few quarters and it was welcome to see this trend continue. Both export balances in the services sector are at record highs for the survey: export sales (+36%), and export orders (+33%). In addition, the services sector employment balance rose nine points to +29%, and is now at an all-time high.

While it is mainly good news the survey does highlight some issues of concern. Cashflow continues to be an ongoing problem, and may hold businesses back from expanding to meet the growing levels of demand.

If you would like to read more about the survey you can find a list of tables and an infographic with all the key results here.