This is an important week for understanding what has been going on within the Northern Ireland economy. We had four surveys released yesterday by NISRA – two on the labour market and two on private sector output. Within them, there was a variety of highs and lows, some of which are positive and some of which are concerning. For the labour market, the two key releases were the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES). The latter is the most closely watched survey of the number of jobs in the economy. Meanwhile the other two surveys shed light on private sector output in the third quarter. These were the Index of Services and the Index of Production (industrial production / manufacturing output). So what do they tell us about the local economy? Continue reading
The big let down of the post-crisis recovery has been the failure of wage growth to ignite in the face of an ever-tightening labour market. Will 2018 finally be the year it changes? Prolonging the recovery might depend on it.
Today sees the release of November data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to further solid increases in output and new orders, with rates of expansion in both slightly quicker than those recorded in October. Rising workloads led to a further accumulation of outstanding business, with companies increasing staffing levels accordingly. Meanwhile, input cost inflation accelerated to a six-month high. Continue reading
New car sales have been on the slide in the UK in 2017. November marked the eight successive year-on-year fall, with UK sales down 11%. England, Scotland and Wales posted double-digit declines last month with Scotland recording the sharpest fall (-24% y/y). The falls though conceal shifting patterns of demand between fuel types. Sales of petrol cars continue to grow (+5% y/y) while diesel sales plummeted by 31% y/y. Meanwhile the Alternative Fuelled Vehicles (AFV) sector saw sales volume surge by one-third in November. Continue reading
After the sobering downgrade to our prospects for productivity growth comes the scramble for solutions. The new industrial strategy, if fulfilled, is a good place to start.
Last week the UK got a downgrade. Its growth prospects were slashed by the Office for Budget Responsibility in the all important area of productivity. If it’s correct, the country faces another decade of very challenging economic circumstances having just gone through one following the financial crisis.
Richard delivered a presentation this morning to business people in Portadown about yesterday’s Budget. Here are his slides. You can also read his Budget analysis here.
Today’s Budget speech may not have been the most exciting ever, but it was possibly the most future-focused. Indeed, Philip Hammond used the word ‘future’ 33 times at the dispatch box this afternoon, and focused heavily on measures relating to, for instance, first time homebuyers, the technology sector, electric cars. In contrast, there was no mention of pensioners and little to appeal directly to that particular demographic. This perhaps marks a new era of more youth-friendly Budgets. Continue reading
The UK housing market is tipped to feature prominently in the Chancellor’s Budget. A range of initiatives are expected to be unveiled, targeted primarily at the younger generation. There are calls for a shift in emphasis from ‘Help to Buy’ to ‘Help to Build’ schemes. It remains to be seen how Northern Ireland will benefit from these. But it’s worth considering how the Northern Ireland housing building sector is currently faring. Continue reading
Last week’s data suggests inflation’s recent run-up could very well be peaking. That would be welcome. The less good news was a rare decline in the number of people in work. Here’s hoping that’s just a blip. Continue reading