Business optimism at its highest level for 16 years, CBI says

Service sector firms are taking on more staff as the UK economy improves.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 27 May 2014

Business optimism is at its highest level since 1998 and firms are taking on more staff, business lobby group the CBI has said.

Its survey of 151 firms showed that activity in the services sector, which accounts for more than three-quarters of Britain's economy, rose for a fourth straight quarter. The survey also suggested that optimism among firms in both the professional and the consumer services sector rose at the fastest rate since the start of the survey in November 1998.

Firms questioned by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said they were increasingly happy about the economic situation; however they were finding it hard to employ people with the right skill sets.

‘The recovery continues to strengthen with both consumer and business-facing firms taking on more staff and investing in training and IT,’ CBI director-general Katja Hall said. ‘But a rising number of firms, particularly in business and professional services are having problems finding the right staff. This survey identifies a skills gap as a growing constraint on business expansion in the sector over the year ahead.’

Official figures show the UK economy grew by 0.8% in the first three months of 2014 as households upped their spending and firms lifted investment. The figures from the Office for National Statistics also confirmed GDP grew 3.1% from a year earlier and the UK is now one of the fastest growing western economies.

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