Business Irish

Sunday 18 February 2018

Northern Ireland business activity continues to grow

Artist busy at work at the Belfast GameCraft in Farset Labs
Artist busy at work at the Belfast GameCraft in Farset Labs
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The private sector in Northern Ireland has started the second half of the year with strong growth in activity and new business, a survey has found.

Companies took on extra staff, although the pace was slightly down on the previous month, according to the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index for the sector from Ulster Bank.

The construction sector was regarded as one of the star performers, but the survey points out that the work isn’t necessarily happening in Northern Ireland as many local construction companies have been expanding their workloads elsewhere, particularly in Britain.

Richard Ramsey, Northern Ireland Ulster Bank economist, said businesses were seeing the impact of strong growth across the UK.

“The Northern Ireland private sector started the second half of 2014 in the same vein as it ended the first, seeing strong growth in activity and new business

“Panelists also reported that Northern Ireland continues to benefit from improving economic conditions in the Republic of Ireland, its largest export market,” Mr Ramsey said.

Official figures released last month, however, suggested the recovery in the Northern Ireland economy remains fragile, where attempts have been made to create a more vibrant private sector.

Accountancy giant PwC has said that whilst the UK recovery is accelerating, Northern Ireland remains well behind other regions in terms of forecast economic growth.

It pointed out that the North has the UK’s highest level of negative equity and claims it remains “overly reliant on the public sector where the austerity programme is set to become even tighter.”

Today’s report highlights the positive. It stated that there was again positive news on employment, which has now risen for more than a year.

The rate of job creation remained solid but it also pointed out that this slowed to the weakest since February. The rise in employment was also slower than that recorded across the UK economy as a whole.

The headline PMI seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index rose to 59.8 from 59.0 in the previous month. Anything above 50 signals expansion, while below that means contraction.


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