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Taking the temperature of the Welsh economy.

THE Welsh economy is showing signs of steady growth, according to the latest Welsh Business Barometer, published by South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce and the West Cheshire and North Wales Chambers of Commerce.

The Welsh Business Barometer for the third quarter (Q3) of 2017 (July-September) shows improving growth in both UK and export markets, with an increased number of recorded sales and orders. Business confidence has slightly risen, with more companies expecting profits and turnover to increase. The number of firms that have increased their workforce in the last three months has risen more than 20%, along with those planning on expanding their staffing numbers, which is up more than 19%.

But concern has been expressed over the number of firms that are finding it difficult to recruit staff, mainly owing to the skills gap in Wales and uncertainty over the future of EU citizens in the UK.

Commenting on this quarter's results, Liz Maher, president of the South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce, said: "It's good news that the Welsh economy is continuing to grow, particularly with the uncertainty following the general election and regarding Brexit. But the news that so many of our members are finding it difficult to recruit is worrying for future growth prospects."

With more than half of businesses having recruited during the last quarter, 70% of those who responded to the Welsh Business Barometer said they had experienced difficulties sourcing staff with the skills they need. This is the highest the figure has reached since the Welsh Business Barometer results recorded in the period April-June 2015.

According the Barometer results for Q3, the biggest recruitment challenge for Welsh businesses is finding skilled manual or technical staff (49%), with a significant number of companies also indicating that they had difficulties in recruiting professional or managerial-level staff (42%).

While the Q3 figures reveal a steady increase in business growth and confidence, no two companies are experiencing the same positive results - those that export are taking advantage of the low pound and moving into new markets, while others are finding it challenging. Some of the successful companies have also stated that while they are doing well, they are apprehensive of the businesses within their supply chain that are struggling, as this could have a knock-on effect.

The Welsh Business Barometer is an independent survey of business performance and confidence, which acts as an early indicator of Wales' future economy. The latest findings were presented to firms at Dragon Park in Newport.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 11, 2017
Words:417
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