Chart of the Month – Northern Ireland Home Ownership by Age

10 years ago Northern Ireland’s housing boom was turning to bust.  Back then the focus was on residential property price falls and the collapse in house building. Another less closely watched indicator, rates of home ownership, also plummeted. This trend was accompanied by a corresponding boom in the private rented sector which has more than doubled between 2006-2016.

Chart of the Month - July.png Continue reading

Unemployment rate falls but for the wrong reasons?

During the three months to February 2017, Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 5.2% (UK = 4.7%). This represents the lowest unemployment rate since the period September – November 2008. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s youth unemployment rate (18-24yrs of age) dipped below the 13% mark for the first time in 7 years.  At 12.9% (UK = 10.4%), this is almost half the rate that prevailed at the peak in Q3 2013. Surely, cause for celebration? Continue reading

Chart of the Month – 10 years since the property price peak

chart-of-the-month-mortgages

As we approach the 10th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s house price peak (and subsequent correction), we’ve been seeing some encouraging signs in the mortgage market.

2016 saw Northern Ireland notch up its fifth consecutive year of mortgage growth. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) there were 13,800 loans advanced for house purchase. This represented a rise of over 5% year-on-year, with last year’s total representing the most mortgages advanced since 2007.

Despite a rise of 80 percent since 2008 though, mortgage volumes in Northern Ireland are still only half of what they were a decade ago.

The number of first-time buyers in Northern Ireland hit a 10-year high last year (8,000). However, this is still over 10,000 fewer than 2001’s peak.

The recovery in the mortgage market has been more marked within the First-Time Buyer (FTB) segment than the Home Mover market. The latter’s recovery has been somewhat disappointing.

In 2016, there were only 5,800 mortgages advanced in the Home Mover market; this was just 1/3rd of the volume of activity in 2006 and on a par with 1980/81. Lack of supply of certain property types and the legacy of negative equity are hampering this market.

House building is on the rise and people are gradually paying off their debt. But the legacy of what happened 10 years ago will continue to be felt for some time to come.

Women lead the way in labour market figures

female-unemployment

The headlines in Northern Ireland’s latest labour market statistics make for pleasant reading.

Unemployment is continuing to fall and fresh record highs and lows were established for the employment and economic inactivity rates respectively.

However, these headlines conceal a significant divergence with respect to gender. Continue reading

Chart of the Month – Wages still lower than in 2009

ni-gross-annual-earnings

Following the economic downturn, one of the primary reasons why households failed to experience the ‘economic recovery’ was due to what was happening with wages. Between 2009 and 2013, the median annual wage for full-time employees in Northern Ireland fell by £2,418 or 9% when adjusted for inflation. Since this low in 2013, annual wages have increased by £1,719 or 7.1% in real terms to £26,069. Despite this wage recovery, annual earnings of NI full-time workers are still  almost £700 below their recent 2009 peak.