North Is Building Again According To New Survey

New business in Northern Ireland is rising at record rates – and the region is building again, according to the latest economic survey.

Ulster Bank‘s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) report recorded the highest rate since the survey began in 2002.

And it was the construction sector that posted the best results, showing the highest monthly increase for any sector in more than a decade, pointing to further strong growth in the north’s private sector.

Higher new business also contributed to a big build-up of outstanding work, and companies took on staff in increased numbers

May’s rise in new business carried on a year-long trend of growth.

Output across the Northern Ireland private sector rose at a substantial pace that was only slightly weaker than April’s series record, as signalled by the headline Business Activity Index posting 60.6 from 61.9.

Meanwhile, a combination of higher new work and increasing backlogs led companies in Northern Ireland to raise their employment again in May.

Although the rate of input cost inflation remained marked in May, it slowed for the second consecutive month.

Slower cost inflation was recorded across three of the four monitored sectors, the exception being retail.

Ulster Bank’s chief economist in the north, Richard Ramsey said the survey showed, “the second quarter of the year is set to be even stronger than the first as far as Northern Ireland’s private sector economic recovery is concerned”.

“All sectors of the economy posted strong rates of growth in business activity and staffing levels in May – although the retail sector saw its rate of growth in business activity slow to an eleven-month low,” he said.

“All sectors, bar retail, also reported an easing in input cost inflation last month although rising wage costs, which is a sign of recovery, remains a recurring theme.”

He said the rise in new orders “suggests that business activity will re-main buoyant for some time yet”.

“In this survey, construction reports its fastest rate of growth in business activity on record, which eclipses the previous high in April by quite some margin.

“Indeed, no sector of the economy in the PMI survey’s history has reported as high a rate of growth in business activity as the construction industry in May.

“It should be noted, however, that no sector of the economy experienced the record rates of decline that the local construction industry has experienced.

“Therefore what we are seeing is a period of catch-up from very low levels of activity. Indeed, the official figures show that the number of housing starts was still falling in the last quarter of 2013.”