NatWest UK regional PMI report for March 2024

UK growth revival encompassing almost all nations and regions.

Key findings

  • 1 out of 12 nations and regions record higher output in March
  • Upturn in activity generally supported by improved inflows of new work
  • Business cost pressures ease slightly but remain strong


Latest NatWest Regional PMI® survey data showed business activity rising almost universally across the UK in March, supported by a general upturn in demand. Trends in employment remained more mixed, with just over half of areas seeing growth in job numbers amid still-strong cost pressures. Positively, rates of input price inflation generally eased, and firms remained optimistic about the outlook for the year ahead. 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 growth was recorded in 11 of the 12 monitored nations and regions, led by London (index at 57.1). Close behind was Northern Ireland*, which gathered considerable momentum to post its steepest rise in output for over two years (56.6). There were renewed expansions in the South West (51.2), Wales (50.3) and North East (50.2). Only Yorkshire & Humber (46.9) went against the trend, recording a second straight monthly contraction.


Sebastian Burnside, NatWest Chief Economist, commented: "The picture for the UK economy has brightened since the end of last year, and the same goes for most regions and nations with business activity rising almost universally in March. "London continues to lead the way in terms of business activity growth, but Northern Ireland is now close behind having gained considerable momentum so far this year. A number of other areas have returned to growth in a sign that the upturn is broadening out. "Encouragingly, new orders are now rising across most regions and nations, signalling that demand has turned a corner since last year, although for the most part businesses are still seeing only modest growth in sales. "The picture for the labour market is less clear-cut, with employment increasing in March in a little over half of the 12 monitored regions and nations. Whilst businesses generally expect activity to rise in the coming year, with confidence levels looking solid across the board, falling backlogs of work in most areas point to low pressure on business capacity, thereby giving firms more room to manoeuvre when it comes to hiring policies. "Another factor is that, even after three years of steep cost increases, businesses' input prices are still rising at a relatively fast rate due in large part to wage demands. Cost pressures did at least soften slightly almost everywhere in March, which goes some way to easing concerns over sticky inflation."


Please see the regional reports in full:


UK National (PDF, 1,793KB)

North East (PDF, 1,226KB)

North West (PDF, 2,932KB)

Yorkshire and the Humber (PDF, 1,286KB)

East Midlands (PDF, 1,250KB)

West Midlands (PDF, 1,173KB)

East of England (PDF, 1,220KB)

London (PDF, 1,186KB)

South East (PDF, 1,202KB)

South West (PDF, 1,224KB)

Scotland (PDF, 1,076KB)

Wales (PDF, 1,172KB)

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