According to the*, the latest published figures are showing that business activity in the West Midlands rose at its fastest rate for 10 months in February, triggering a big rise in employment:

The latest Lloyds TSB West Midlands PMI report shows private sector activity growth is continuing to gain momentum with the figures for February up on those from the previous month.

However, the research warns that price pressures are continuing to build, with both input costs and output charges rising at the fastest rates since September 2008.

The Lloyds TSB West Midlands Business Activity Index – which measures the combined output of the region’s manufacturing and service sectors – posted 58.5, up from 57.8 in January. Any figure above 50 suggests the economy is growing.

The index suggested there was anecdotal evidence the strong activity growth was underpinned by further new business wins. Manufacturing firms recorded a much stronger rise in private sector output than service providers – underlining January’s 6.8% increase in manufacturing was no fluke.

Firms in the region also indicated a rise in incoming new business for the 20th successive month during February. Despite easing since January, the pace of expansion was marked, and faster than at the UK-wide level. According to survey respondents, new order growth reflected improved confidence amongst both consumers and business clients.

Companies added to staffing numbers in February, extending the current period of growth to five months.

Furthermore, the rate of job creation accelerated to the fastest in the survey history – the employment growth linked to the rise in new business.

Average input prices rose at a substantial and accelerated pace in February. The rate of cost inflation was the highest since September 2008, largely reflecting increased energy, fuel and raw material prices.

The cost of steel since January was also cited by manufacturing firms, while service providers highlighted January’s VAT rise.

Strong cost inflation resulted in an increase in prices charged by West Midlands private sector firms for the fifteenth month running. The pace of inflation was marked, and the sharpest in almost two-and-a-half years.