Mission Accomplished!

Back in December 2021, NISRA’s Index of Services and Industrial Production surveys for Q3 2021 revealed that economic output was closing in fast on pre-pandemic levels or indeed even exceeding them.

For example, industrial production (which is mostly manufacturing) was just 0.1% below the pre-pandemic level of Q4 2019 while private sector services output was 2.2% above the same benchmark.

Today we got a more complete picture with the release of the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI) and the Index of Construction for the third quarter.

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Double dipping but economy set for growth this year

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.

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Private sector flat or expanding?


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

NI Composite Economic Index


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

NI Composite Economic Index

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

NI economy not as weak as figures suggest

Today’s official figures suggest that the Northern Ireland economy stagnated in the second quarter with the private sector reporting marginal growth.

Meanwhile public sector job losses pushed the overall economy into a slight contraction.

However, while the local economy does face significant challenges, the current position is not as weak as today’s headlines suggest.

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