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

10-year car sales high flattered by tax changes

automotive-1838744_1920

March a 10-year high for NI new car sales

March was a record month for new car sales in the UK and a 10-year high in Northern Ireland. There were 8,556 new cars sold locally last month, just over 1,000 fewer (11%) than the pre-recession peak of 9,564 in March 2006. The near 10% y/y rise in local new car sales last month compared favourably with a UK increase of 8.5%.  However, Northern Ireland’s sales figures are coming off a lower base and follow declines recorded in earlier months. Continue reading

Inflation rising, and more in the post

newspapers-444447_1280.jpgWe’re still well off letter-writing territory, but inflation saw a significant jump from 1.8% year-on-year in January to 2.3% last month. This is the highest rate of inflation since September 2013 and marks the arrival of the consumer price rises that the Ulster Bank NI PMI has been flagging for some months. The main driver is the acceleration in the price of consumer goods – everything from new cars to newspapers – where inflation was virtually non-existent just four months ago. Continue reading

Inflationary wake-up call for consumers

fuel-1596622_1920

Cost of living crisis

During the post-recessionary period from 2010-2013 inflationary alarm bells were ringing loudly in UK consumers’ ears. The lack of pay rises during this period exacerbated the squeeze on disposable incomes and gave rise to the so-called “cost of living crisis”.  During this four-year period UK CPI averaged 3.3% per annum.  Meanwhile the average per annum price increases for food, energy bills and motor fuels were 3.8%, 5.7% and 8.2% respectively. Continue reading