The latest Government economic output figures show that the Northern Ireland economy is now growing steadily although at a significantly slower rate than the rest of the United Kingdom.
Although there have always been deficiencies in the economic data and growth available to the Government here, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has compiled an ‘experimental’ Composite Economic Index which attempts to provide a reasonable quarterly measure of the Northern Ireland economy based on available official statistics.
The latest data from the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI) published on 24 July 2015, detail the service sector and economic output figures for the period up to the end of the first quarter of 2015. Although the output from Q1 2015 is 2.5 per cent higher than Q1 2014 the annualised rate of growth for Northern Ireland (last 4 quarters compared to previous 4 quarters) is 1.6 per cent. This compares favourably with the previous annual Northern Ireland growth rate of 1.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014 although it remains substantially lower than the equivalent figure for the whole of the UK, now running at 3 per cent.
The figures also show that all of the growth is coming from the private sector with a slight contraction in the public sector. The private sector growth has been led by the construction, production and services sectors.
The 7.9 per cent annualised growth in construction is something of a recovery in that sector after some very sharp falls during the recession. It is anticipated however that services will make an increased contribution to overall economic growth in Northern Ireland in the period ahead.
Although NISRA urges caution in relation to aspects of the Composite Economic Index, overall, the statistics do show that recovery is indeed underway, albeit slowly.