Quarterly Economic Survey

The Quarterly Economic Survey is one of the longest running and widest scoping business surveys in the UK. It provides a useful picture of the state of business in the UK at a national, regional and local level.

Nationally, tens of thousands of businesses answer the survey, and this is the opportunity to be part of that.

We ask a mix of standing questions which give a perspective of how trade, labour, business confidence and other metrics have fluctuated. We also ask specific questions each quarter on hot topics that members are interested in, including AI, the impact of global conflicts and the Covid-19 pandemic.

From there, we present this data to local councils, combined authorities and it forms part of the picture that goes to national government with the wider British Chambers of Commerce.

On this page, you will find links to previous Quarterly Economic Surveys, to see the details of what businesses tell us.

Q1 2024 Executive Summary

Domestic sales

A significant improvement upon the disappointing figures seen in Q4 of 2023. The service sector so a four-point boost whilst manufacturers delivered a five-point increase. The real success story was seen on businesses’ order books which were light years ahead of the previous quarter, most notably from manufacturers who posted a 22-point improvement.

Export sales

Yorkshire’s mantle as a first-class exporting economy was restored in spades during Q1 of this year, largely driven by the service sector which saw a 34 point improvement in international trade. Order books too were looking strong, most notably for the manufacturing sector.


The gradual cooling off in hiring seen during the second half of 2023 looks to be reversing with 28 per cent of service sector firms and 24 per cent of manufacturers saying they grew their workforce in the three months prior to the fieldwork taking place. Even better news lies in firms’ appetite for growing their workforces further with one in three businesses expecting to hire more staff in the next quarter.


A largely positive picture on investment, particularly among manufacturers who reported a 25-point improvement when it came to capital investment. Service firms also showed greater willingness to invest in capital projects although the sector showed a decrease in the desire to greater train its staff.

Business confidence

After a weak finish to Q4 of 2023, the region’s business community’s confidence looks to be very much back on track, particularly in the manufacturing sector where a big improvement in expectations on profits and turnover was reported. One in four firms in our region expects to swell their profits during the coming months.

Business costs and concerns

Wages is now the main concern for businesses when it comes to costs, with 62 per cent of manufacturers and 60 per cent of services firms citing it as their top issue. Raw material costs and utility bills remain hot topics too, despite inflation falling.