NatWest UK regional PMI report for September 2022

A summary of this month’s Purchasing Managers’ Index reports. Business activity fell across most UK regions and nations in September.

Key findings

  • Only London and Yorkshire and the Humber recorded growth in business activity
  • Rates of employment slowed in the majority of areas
  • Elevated price pressures strained demand and weighed on expectations


Demand for goods and services fell in most areas, under pressure from high inflation and increased uncertainty towards the outlook. This, in turn, took a toll on hiring activity, with employment growth slowing in the majority of cases.

The PMI Business Activity Index is the first fact-based indicator of regional economic health published each month, tracking the monthly change in the output of goods and services across the private sector. A reading above 50 signals growth, and the further above the 50 level, the faster the expansion signalled.

Business activity fell in all but three of the 12 monitored UK regions and nations in September. The fastest rates of contraction were seen in Northern Ireland* (index at 42.3) and the South West (43.5). London (52.0) was the best-performing region, despite seeing growth slow to a 20-month low, ahead of Yorkshire and the Humber (51.4). Business activity in the South East (50.0) was unchanged on the month, after having fallen slightly in August.

* PMI survey coverage in Northern Ireland includes construction and retail, as well as manufacturing and services.

Sebastian Burnside, NatWest Chief Economist, commented: “The majority of UK regions saw business activity levels fall in September, amid an increasingly challenging economic backdrop.

“The combination of a loss of purchasing power due to high inflation, rising interest rates and concerns about the economic outlook have weighed on demand for goods and services across the board.

“London and Yorkshire and the Humber were the only regions still in growth territory in September, recording increases in both output and new business, though they, too, have shown a considerable loss of momentum compared to earlier in the year, while also seeing the largest month-on-month drops in business expectations.

“Optimism towards growth prospects fell in most regions in September and was, in all cases, low by normal standards. With conditions becoming more challenging and businesses less confident of growth in the year ahead, we've seen a broad-based slowdown in recruitment activity compared to earlier in the year.”

Please see the regional reports in full:

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