Coronavirus restrictions and the Omicron variant have meant an uncertain start to 2022 for businesses, according to Huddersfield-based recruitment agency Stafflex.

The latest data appears to show strong performance in the services sector but the demand for manufactured goods has seen a slow down.

Employer confidence in Yorkshire took a dip as concerns grew over the Omicron variant leaving question marks over economic performance.

Brian Stahelin, joint managing director at Stafflex, said: “It is difficult to predict the economic outlook for 2022.

“This time of year is typically unpredictable with the majority of sectors shut down for different periods. There is also not yet a clear picture for employers until we see what the level of bounce back following the Christmas break.

“The current situation is exacerbated by the pandemic. The Government recently said that we could expect up to 25% of an organisation’s workforce could be off work due to the Coronavirus.

“We suspect by end of Q1 2022 we will start to see an increase in employers making business decisions regarding their workforce.”

A recent report by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation showed employer confidence in the UK’s economy had wavered as uncertainty loomed about the Omicron variant. Businesses, however, continued to remain positive about making hiring and investment decisions.

With rising energy and transport costs many businesses have seen the fastest rise in operating expenses since 1997 meaning companies have been forced to increase the cost of goods and services.

The service sectors have done best such as those in transport, communication, hospitality and business-to-business.

Manufacturing sectors such as textiles and clothing, wood and paper and electrical saw a decrease in output, however.

Recruitment is still difficult with a shortage of suitable candidates.