Regional Network: Decline in activity – improved outlook
According to Regional Network contacts, business sector activity has declined slightly this winter. Contacts expect activity to pick up again over the next six months, and they are more optimistic than in November, primarily owing to the roll-out of vaccines.
The overall level of activity has declined slightly over the past three months. In particular, higher infection rates and stricter containment measures in recent months have dampened turnover among household-oriented sectors. Activity has also fallen in construction and among oil service contacts. Growth has slowed in commercial services, while manufacturing output has increased in both domestic and export markets.
Overall, contact enterprises expect higher activity levels over the next six months, and prospects have improved compared with expectations in November, primarily owing to the roll-out of vaccines. Most sectors expect a pick-up in activity through spring and summer. Construction and oil service contacts expect the decline to slow ahead.
Contacts are planning for a slight increase in the level of investment for the first time since February 2020. Contacts have reduced their workforces somewhat through winter, but expect a slight rise in employment in the period ahead. The estimate for annual wage growth in 2021 is 2.3 percent.
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