Living with lockdowns. Lockdown restrictions have had the effect of turning economic activity off and on. However, as the pandemic has progressed, subsequent lockdowns have been less severe on economic activity than the first. Many businesses have been able to adapt and function throughout lockdowns or pivot into new markets. The trajectory of economic output has largely followed a bungee jump. The initial fall (Q2) and rebound (Q3) will be the most extreme, but subsequent declines and rebounds will moderate.
Robust growth, according to PMI – The last few days has seen a flurry of surveys released on the health of the Northern Ireland economy. Ulster Bank’s PMI pointed to robust growth across the private sector in Q4 2017. The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for the same period was not quite as positive as the PMI. Nevertheless, both manufacturing and services firms reported growth in the final quarter of 2017. Overall, the performance was more encouraging for the manufacturing sector than for services firms. Continue reading →
The release of the latest Northern Ireland’s Composite Economic Index confirmed what we already knew last month. Namely, that the contraction in services sector output (-0.5% q/q) and industrial production (-1.8% q/q) pulled the private sector output index (-0.9% q/q) lower for the first time in four quarters. The overall composite economic index (public & private sector) also decreased by the same margin (-0.9%). Last month’s Quarterly Employment Survey confirmed that the public sector index (based on employment rather than output) posted its seventh consecutive quarterly decline. Public sector employment is almost 11% below its Q3 2009 peak and at its lowest level in over 14 years. Continue reading →
The latest economic output statistics confirm that the Northern Ireland economy was growing strongly in Q2 ahead of the EU referendum result. The Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index expanded at its fastest rate (+1.0% q/q) in almost three years in Q2 2016 and hit its highest level in over 6 years. However, this overall headline performance conceals divergence between the private and public sectors. While the former remains in expansion mode the latter continues to reduce its headcount in the face of public spending pressures. Continue reading →