Northern Ireland Economy Shows Signs of Recovery As Jobs Rise and Benefit Claims Drop Again

The Northern Ireland economy has been more severely impacted by global recession than the rest of the UK but is showing signs of improvement, according to an Executive report.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s (DETI) Economic Commentary for October highlighted a fall in the number of people claiming benefits for the seventh consecutive month, an increase in the number of jobs and a fall in the rate of redundancies.

In addition, house prices, tourism and exports are all said to have risen.

Despite the improving economic indicators, DETI minister Arlene Foster conceded that there is still much to do. “While there are positive signs that our economy is improving, this is not a time for complacency. There is still much to be done,” she said.

That fact was highlighted by data in the report from the Northern Ireland Composite Index which showed the private sector in Northern Ireland is operating at levels last seen in 2004 and is nearly 14% below the 2007 peak in activity.

It accounts for 74% of the economy here compared to 26% for the public sector, which is only 4.9% below its peak recorded in 2009.

The report also highlight Oxford Economic’s forecast for economic growth in Northern Ireland which has climbed to 0.5% in 2013, 1.8% in 2014 and 2.4% in 2015.

“The successful G8 Summit and the follow up investment conference have both provided the opportunity to positively promote Northern Ireland on a global stage. The inward investment announced at the conference will provide new job opportunities as well as providing a direct boost to local businesses able to feed into these new businesses,” it said.

When it comes to the global economy, the report said economic risks have lessened and the outlook is more stable.

“Many of our key external markets are now growing: the UK, the Republic, the Euro area and US,” it said. “However, at the time of writing there are significant issues for the US government in achieving budget agreement, with the deadline of October 17 for extending the government’s borrowing looming.”