We like to bring good news to you as much as we can so we thought we would relay to you the fact that the economy in Northern Ireland grew in the first 3 months of 2022, with many sectors getting back to the levels they hit before the pandemic in 2020. There seemed to be signs of the economy slowing down once more in the month of May, most likely due to concerns over the cost of living and high fuel prices, but overall the signs are reasonably promising.
Output Above Pre-Pandemic Levels
Here are details of the economic growth as copied from an article on the Irish News website, the figures come from a report by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra):
In the first quarter of 2022: ‘Output in the north’s manufacturing sector was 3.9 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, with food and drink up 11.77 per cent on the fourth quarter of 2019.
‘It compares with manufacturing in the wider UK, which remained 0.2 per cent below pre-Covid levels. Labour market data published on Tuesday also showed Northern Ireland manufacturers creating jobs at a greater rate than the UK as a whole.
‘Analysts have pointed to the Northern Ireland Protocol as a potential factor.
‘The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in Dublin found in December that a significant uptake in the proportion of goods being sourced north of the border had been driven by the food and drink sector.
‘Ulster Bank’s chief economist Richard Ramsey said the quarter one Nisra data showed output within the north’s food and drink manufacturing sector increased at four times the UK rate between the end of 2019 and start of 2022.
The Recovery In Manufacturing Is Not Complete
‘However, the recovery in manufacturing is not complete, with the transport sub-sector, which includes aerospace, 47.5 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels.
‘Nisra’s data showed retail sales bounced back well in early 2022, climbing by 2.6 per cent over the quarter and seven per cent over the year.
‘But the figures point to a sharp drop in car sales and hospitality.
‘Ulster Bank’s latest PMI this week showed the cost of living crisis caught up with the sector during May, with output well down last month.
‘Danske Bank’s latest research also revealed inflation significantly dampening consumer confidence of late.
‘Grant Thornton’s chief economist Andrew Webb said the more recent economic data only served to highlight the dramatic pace at which sentiment has switched since the first quarter.’
So it is fair to say that the overall look of the economy is probably mixed, but when you think about where we were when were deep in lockdown we have to be thankful for small mercies!