British businesses are anticipating increased hiring levels over the next six months, in spite of expectations that the economy will not grow.

BDO’s optimism index, which measures business performance expectations two quarters ahead, rose from 90.6 in February to 92.2 in March.

However, the optimism and output indices collated by BDO stood below 95, the dividing line between economic growth and contraction.

Their corresponding employment index measures the hiring intentions of UK companies’ over the next two quarters. It reached 96 in March, the highest since August 2011.

The strength of the labour market has surprised economists.

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