The worst of the recession could be over, according to findings from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Economic Survey.
Manufacturing fared better in Q2 than services, though in absolute terms, the manufacturing sector remains in a worse condition overall.
Turnover confidence was positive for the first time since Q3 last year and it has improved dramatically for manufacturing firms, rising 40 points from -38 in Q1 to +2 in Q2.
Hiring intentions in both sectors grew this quarter, but the BCC predicts unemployment will reach 3.2m by mid 2010.
David Frost, director at the British Chambers of Commerce Director General, says: “These results are sending Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling a strong message from the business community. It is absolutely vital that the improvement in business confidence is nurtured.
“Our economy is based on confidence, and wealth-creating businesses need to know they will be given the freedom and flexibility to drive the UK out of recession and into a sustainable recovery.
David Kern, chief economist at the BCC, adds: “The pace of decline in the UK economy is clearly moderating. The worst phase of the recession is over, but serious downward pressures persist across all sectors and regions. Most key balances are still in negative territory and remain weak by historical standards. Recovery is now possible but it is not yet secure.
“Further corrective measures are still needed to support the economy. The marked improvement in confidence, albeit from exceptionally low levels, is welcome. However, these recent gains can only be sustained if the economy continues to stabilise and the recession ends.”