British businesses are creating jobs faster than ever before

Firms created 150,000 jobs in the first quarter, according to figures by Markit. But businesses are still under pressure.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Mar 2014

The Purchasing Managers' Index is the workhorse of the economics data world: unsexy and dependable, it shows - usually in increments of fractions of a percent - how much businesses are producing.

This month, though, there's an opportunity for a nice bit of hyperbole, because according to figures published by Markit, in February firms created more jobs than ever before. Well, in the 16 years since the survey began, anyway. In the first quarter, they hired 150,000 workers. That's a lot of new jobs.

Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist, could barely contain his excitement. 'There's no end in sight to the good news,' he fizzed. Actually there is a bit: the PMI for the services sector slipped from 58.3 in January to 58.2 in February, showing production dropped marginally (although any figure above 50 means it is growing, so this is far from a disaster).

More seriously, Markit's prices index fell, from 53.1 in January to 51.6 in February - its lowest level since September 2013. Again, not a disaster - but certainly a suggestion that businesses aren't out of the woods yet.

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