NI sees rapid job creation and economic growth output with lockdown easing

  • Higher workloads due to Covid-19 restrictions loosening in May, has seen NI firms hire new staff at the joint-fastest pace since Ulster Bank started collecting such data in 2002, the bank has said.

    The survey also revealed that Northern Ireland's economic growth output has been the quickest since 2014, due to lockdown easing last month.

    Ulster Bank's monthly survey asks firms across NI's private sector about things such as staffing, new orders and exports.

    Richard Ramsey, Chief Economist at Ulster Bank NI said that similar surveys around the world "hit record highs in May". 

    He added that these included the UK and Republic of Ireland - "the two most important economies for driving Northern Ireland’s recovery."

    However, inflationary pressures are also at a record high, with companies' input costs accelerating rapidly for the eighth month running. That means manufacturers, retailers and construction firms raised their prices last month at the fastest pace in the survey's 19-year history.

    Panellists reported higher prices for raw materials, transportation and staff, while often linking increased cost burdens to Brexit. The rate of charge inflation was unchanged from April's record.

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    NI's services sector - the region's largest industry - picked up in new orders for the first time since the pandemic began.

    Retail and manufacturing firms recorded the fastest rates of growth, and construction was the only area not to see a rise in new orders, with incoming demand "falling significantly and marking the sixth successive month of decline."

    This contrasted starkly with UK construction firms which saw new orders hit the fastest growth rates to date.

    "Across the UK, Northern Ireland firms continue to experience the most severe rates of inflation with firms invariably linking the increased costs and lengthening delivery times to Brexit paperwork," Mr Ramsey continued.

    “Northern Ireland could well see a new high in output growth in the next month or two. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain. Global supply chain disruption and inflationary pressures, though expected to be transitory, will act as a headwind to the rapid recovery.

    "Meanwhile as we saw last week, the continuing saga that is Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol, will be a source of political and economic turbulence for the foreseeable future.”

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