Does the coffee shop market look too frothy?

coffee-1174199_1280.jpgOn the face of it, Northern Ireland has had a strong employment recovery. Indeed, last week we found out for the first time that Northern Ireland had surpassed its pre-downturn employment peak. This happened in the first quarter of 2016, and employment growth continued throughout last year.

In terms of the detail, we’ve seen a net gain of over 54,000 jobs during the last five years – that’s an increase of eight percent. Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Well, where did that come from?

business-18061_1280.jpgThree members of the Monetary Policy Committee voted last week to raise Bank Rate to 0.5%, a surprise to say the least. At 2.9%, inflation is above target and heading higher. Yet while employment continues to rise, wage growth is slowing, consumers are under pressure and there is enough uncertainty around to think that tightening monetary policy can wait for a while.

Why the change of tune? Some on the MPC have been surprised by the speed with which inflation has risen and they think that stronger demand from exports and investment spending will help keep growth going, even if the consumer side of the economy is feeling the squeeze. That argument wasn’t strong enough to convince any of the Bank officials to vote for a rise and one of those who voted for a hike has now left the committee. With two vacancies to be filled the MPC’s voting position could be a lot more finely balanced than we’ve been used to.

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Rate of job creation hits 13 month high


Today sees the release of May data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to a pick-up in new order growth during May, supporting a further solid increase in output. The rate of job creation also accelerated as firms responded to current workloads and positive expectations around future new work. Meanwhile, both input costs and output prices rose at slower rates than in April. Continue reading