Tuesday 20 February 2018

Confidence hits all-time high as job opportunities improve

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

Confidence among Irish chief executives has risen to the highest levels since records began in 2009, with more CEOs planning to take on new employees, business lobby group IBEC said yesterday.

The IBEC Business Sentiment Survey for the first quarter of this year shows that one in four managers indicated that they would be hiring new employees in the coming quarter. The figure was one in five in the last quarter of 2012.

The survey suggests consumer spending and business investment rose in the second half of last year and the trend will continue this year. Sales and orders are also rising. The survey is another indicator suggesting that the worst is over. The Central Statistics Office said last week that the economy expanded 0.9pc last year although growth appears to have been flat in the second half.

"The improvement in confidence is predominantly due to recovery in the domestic economy," said IBEC economist Fergal O'Brien. "The Irish economy is clearly rebalancing and it is very positive to see the sentiment readings for both domestic and export activity in positive territory in the first quarter of this year."

The domestic and export sales outlook improved in the first quarter, with domestic sales expectations reaching its highest reading to date, the survey found.

Chief executives' perceptions of the overall business environment rose to a series high, with managers' confidence in their own businesses also hitting a new high.

"It now appears that sustained job creation is taking hold in the exporting sectors," said Mr O'Brien. "Given the positive reading from our employment index, which correlates well with the official labour market data from the CSO, we should see the trend of jobs growth continue and strengthen during 2013."

The new survey comes after a raft of other measures also implied that the economy is in recovery mode. The benchmark ISEQ Overall Index flirted with the 4,000 level last week and had reached several four-year highs this month.

Davy Stockbrokers said earlier this month that it was raising its 2013 forecast for economic growth following "surprisingly strong" investment spending. The stockbroker now believes Irish gross domestic product will grow by 1.3pc this year rather than the 0.9pc forecast a few months earlier.

Davy economist Conall Mac Coille also expects employment to rise this year for the first time since 2007 despite worries about falling merchandise exports and the so-called pharmaceutical patent cliff continues to surpass the value of pharma exports.

Irish Independent

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