Northern Ireland may already be in recession, according to Ulster Bank economist and survey

  • The Northern Ireland economy "has entered or is entering recession" according to a survey by Ulster Bank.

    Results come from Ulster Bank’s August Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which featured input from 200 companies across Northern Ireland's manufacturing, services, retail and construction sectors.

    It is considered a reliable barometer of private sector activity in Northern Ireland.

    Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey was speaking as the results were published. He said: "The latest PMI provides further evidence that Northern Ireland's private sector has entered, or is entering, recession.

    "Perhaps the most concerning elements of August's report are the pace of deterioration in business conditions within the construction and manufacturing sectors."

    New orders in the construction sector have been falling consistently over the last year and plunged to an 81 month low during August 2019.

    Manufacturing firms reported the fastest rate of job losses in over seven years.

    The services industry was the only sector expecting output growth in output in 12 months' time, although it is expected that the rate of expansion will be minor.

    A significant slowdown has also been seen in retail.

    The survey’s findings suggest Brexit-related uncertainty underpinned the fall in private sector output in August. Northern Ireland reported the sharpest contraction in business activity of any UK region.

    Stephen Kelly from Manufacturing NI, told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme that it was not all "doom and gloom", stating that "the challenge here is across the entire sector where we are seeing a significant contraction.

    "We are seeing prices rising extremely quickly in terms of input costs and new future orders are being lagged by the uncertainty that's out there in terms of the Brexit environment."

    Foreign customers were also reportedly reluctant to commit to new projects, which this survey suggests is reflected in a sharp fall in new export orders.

    Unemployment has been rising for eight months, but is still at a relatively low level with a strong labour market.

     

    Sources: BBC, Belfast Telegraph

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