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Productivity and business optimism up

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Productivity has dipped only slightly this summer, according to latest statistics from the Centre for Economic Business and Research (CEBR) and in more good news for UK Plc research from the Institute of Directors (IoD) shows that business performance has hit a three-year high.

Summer is traditionally the time for a productivity lull as workers take a break, however, new statistics from the CEBR show that historic patterns in summer productivity are at last changing.

From 1975 to 1977 GDP during the month of August, dropped to 85% of the annual average. In recent years the summer lull has been halted. In August 2001 to 2003 output feel to only 94%.

The CEBR has attributed the changes to four factors:

• A shift in holiday patterns, partly due to workers having more time off work
• An increase in staff cover and business continuity
• An increase in tourism in August adding to the country’s wealth
• Factory close-downs becoming less widespread combined with the UK becoming more of a service economy

In more good news for British business, new research shows that business optimism and performance are up.

The research by the IoD shows that businesses are in their best position since the last part of 2001.

On balance, 72% of directors questioned said their companies were doing well, up one per cent on the previous survey. The results suggest that higher interest rates have not as yet had a significant impact on UK companies, the IoD said.

Graeme Leach, Chief Economist at the IoD, commented: “All in all this is an upbeat survey. Two thirds of companies say they have seen no evidence of a slowdown in consumer spending in response to interest rates.

“And, despite a fall this quarter, business optimism remains well above the levels seen over the past two years. Given the recent interest rate increases, a fall in business optimism was probably inevitable.”

In other findings from the survey, the balance of respondents expected profits to remain high. The balance of those companies saying the trend in profits is up, versus those saying it is down, was unchanged at 39% in the latest survey.

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Annie Hayes

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