NatWest UK regional PMI report for May 2024

Business activity increases across all nations and regions in May

Key findings

  • Broad-based growth recorded for first time since April 2023 
  • Employment increases in just over half of areas 
  • Cost inflation eases universally after April's National Minimum Wage rise 


Latest Regional PMI® survey data from NatWest showed a broad-based increase in business activity across the UK in May, with growth being recorded simultaneously in all 12 nations and regions monitored for the first time in more than a year. At the same, there was a universal easing of cost inflation, which had spiked in April following the changes to the National Minimum Wage. Business expectations were generally positive, but trends in employment remained more mixed. 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. Growth of business activity in May was strongest in Northern Ireland*, where output expanded at a sharp and accelerated rate (index at 56.4), followed by Scotland (55.2). At the other end of the scale, Yorkshire & Humber (50.5) saw activity increase for the first time since January, albeit marginally


Sebastian Burnside, NatWest Chief Economist, commented: "Although growth slowed at the UK level in May, this masked a more balanced performance geographically as business activity rose in all nations and regions for the first time in over a year. "The month's standout performers were Northern Ireland and Scotland, where rates of expansion went against the trend and accelerated. London has been leading the recovery up to now, but growth in the capital lost some momentum in May and was more aligned with the overall UK rate. "Cost inflation receded across the UK in May, after the changes to the national minimum wage had caused it to spike in April. Nevertheless, with these higher wages already baked in and cost of living pressures continuing to drive up salary demands more generally, we're seeing some reticence among businesses when it comes to hiring. "The lack of employment growth in some areas doesn't appear to be a confidence issue, with May's survey highlighting optimism towards growth prospects across all of the UK's nations and regions. Business activity is generally expected to rise over the next 12 months, helped not least by a potential tailwind from lower interest rates."


Please see the regional report in full:

UK National (PDF, 471KB)

North East (PDF, 739KB)

North West (PDF, 676KB)

Yorkshire and the Humber (PDF, 754KB)

East Midlands (PDF, 961KB)

West Midlands (PDF, 1,171KB)

East of England (PDF, 742KB)

London (PDF, 786KB)

South East (PDF, 732KB)

South West (PDF, 1,225KB)

Scotland (PDF, 855KB)

Wales (PDF, 900KB)

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