Suffolk businesses doing well despite growing recruitment difficulties

Suffolk businesses doing well despite growing recruitment difficulties

The latest figures from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), a comprehensive survey of nearly 170 local firms, shows business is booming across Suffolk. Businesses, especially those in manufacturing, reported stronger sales, orders and employment data in the fourth quarter of last year, compared to the third quarter of 2017.

The QES also showed that business performance and sentiment in the county frequently outstrips that elsewhere in the east of England.

The key headlines from the 167 Suffolk businesses who replied to the survey are:

  • The balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in domestic sales rose from +26% to +56%, and +25% to +27% for those in services
  • The balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in domestic orders rose from +33% to +44%, but fell from +21% to +19% for those in services
  • The balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in overseas sales rose slightly from +29% to +35%, whilst the east of England as a whole fell from +23% to +20%
  • The balance of manufacturing firms reporting an increase in employment rose from +29% to +36%, compared with the east of England as a whole rising from +22% to +26%
  • The balance of firms expecting to recruit staff in the future rose from +31% to +33% for manufacturers compared with a fall across the east of England from +33% to +25%
  • The balance of manufacturing firms experiencing difficulties in finding staff rose from 71% to 88%, with those in services reporting an increase from 62% to 79%

Nick Burfield, Suffolk Chamber’s policy director, said: “These figures show that Suffolk PLC is outperforming the rest of the region according to most indices – in some cases by a country mile. The quarter on quarter figures also show a further strengthening in performance and sentiment from Q3 to Q4.

“The only main concern is that, possibly as a result of this strong performance, a very high percentage of Suffolk businesses are struggling to recruit staff. Unless this is addressed soon it could become a brake upon the further economic success of the county.”

Suffolk Chamber is grateful to Suffolk Knowledge, part of Suffolk County Council, for providing the analysis of the QES.