High costs and low demand hit jobs

Jobcentre PlusJobs were cut across five of the nine English regions last month amid rising costs and muted demand, according to a new survey.

The latest Lloyds TSB Regional Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) said the North West experienced the steepest month-on-month fall in employment, followed by London.

But of the four regions showing a rise in employment, the strongest jobs growth was in Yorkshire & Humberside.

It comes after official figures on Friday showed a steeper-than-expected drop in manufacturing output, fuelling fears that the UK is facing a renewed slump this quarter.

The decline adds to the recent flow of disappointing numbers for the UK economy at the start of the fourth quarter and bodes ill for GDP after a rise of 1% in the autumn ended the longest double-dip recession since the 1950s.

The latest PMI headline business activity index edged up to 51 in November, above the crucial 50 mark representing growth, from 49.7 in October.

But while business output grew in London, the South East, North West, North East and Yorkshire & Humberside, it contracted in the East and West Midlands, East of England and South West, according to the survey.

David Oldfield, managing director of SME & mid markets banking at Lloyds, said: "With backlogs of work falling and pressures on costs continuing, companies are naturally cautious about employment. Many businesses are choosing not to replace leavers, and as a result staff numbers are falling in many areas."

All nine regions reported they had narrowed their backlogs of work, but the sharpest reductions in work backlogs were in the manufacturing heartlands of the North West and West Midlands.

The level of new business across the regions was also mixed, with London recording the strongest increase in new business during the month. The survey revealed continued rising costs across all the regions over the last month, but said inflation had slowed in London and the South East.
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