A respected survey in the West Midlands has revealed the region has enjoyed its sharpest month of business expansion in more than six years.

New orders also increased at a record pace, according to the Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking Composite Midlands Business Activity Index.

It also showed a solid rise in employment levels as the West Midlands’s performance outstripped the rest of the UK.

The PMI Index posted a measurement of 61.1 in November, up from 60.9 in October, a new survey-record high and the 12th consecutive monthly rise. A mark of 50 is the dividing line between contraction and expansion.

The latest expansion was driven by a sharp and accelerated improvement in new order inflows. November data indicated the steepest rise in incoming new work since the series began in January 1997.

West Midlands private sector companies also increased their staffing levels in November, extending the current period of jobs growth to 38 consecutive months. The latest data pointed to a solid rate of employment growth that was the fastest since July 2012.

Increased workforce numbers reflected some pressures on operating capacity in November, as highlighted by a further rise in backlogs of work.

Mark Cadwallader, Lloyds area director commercial banking, said: “Companies reported a further strong improvement in overall business conditions during November, with the strength of output and new order growth both the strongest since the survey began in 1997. A sustained upturn in business activity so far this year has encouraged sector firms to take on new staff, with job creation hitting a 16-month high in November.”