2014 To Be Strongest Year Since 2007 For Economy

Northern Ireland’s economy is set for its strongest year since 2007, Danske Bank has forecast.

In its quarterly sectoral forecast report, the bank said economic growth will reach 2.3 per cent this year.

And it predicts the pace of growth to pick up in 2015 to 2.4 per cent.

The bank said factors such as low interest rates, improved confidence, improved credit, lower and falling inflation combined to create a more positive economic environment.

The report added that rising employment levels and skills shortages in some sectors should also put some upward pressure on earnings this year.

The report said growth would be most buoyant in the private sector and forecast overall employment to grow by 7,000 jobs – with the “professional, scientific and technical” sector creating around 1,500.

Administration and support services, professional, scientific and technical activities, arts and recreation, manufacturing, construction and real estate are expected to grow 3 per cent or more, the report said.

It forecast retail to grow by 2.6 per cent while agriculture, financial and insurance activities, transport and ICT are expected to grow by between 1 and 2 per cent.

The report also pointed to risks to the economy including from the Scottish independence referendum and its impact upon macroeconomic stability and investment in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, any further strengthening of the pound has the potential to negatively impact upon Northern Ireland’s export ambitions, it said.

Danske Bank’s chief economist in the north Angela McGowan said the report showed “the recovery has truly taken root and we can now see a wide range of economic indicators pointing in the right direction”.

She added: “Consumers are demonstrating greater confidence as the jobs market improves and pressure on domestic incomes has receded.

“Significantly, the latest official data shows that the business sector too has gained confidence and is now investing – hopefully that will continue in the year ahead.

“Jobs growth in the year ahead should hopefully follow the general improvement that we have seen in economic activity and business confidence.

“The central forecast for Northern Ireland’s private sector in 2014 looks very hopeful. The wider economic environment is now highly conducive to investment, expansion and job creation.

“For Northern Ireland a key challenge will be to ensure that the right conditions prevail in the local economy which will allow businesses to flourish and job creation to grow.”

Source: irishnews.com