The latest monthly report from the Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) has indicated that the economy in Northern Ireland has grown once more, with input costs and output price increases also gently easing to make trading conditions better for a lot of businesses up and down the country. Supply chain issues have also appeared to ease a tad which is also excellent news. However the public sector is faring less well than the private sector with conditions still very tough there, as costs continue to spiral for them.
Businesses Appear To Be In Expansion Mode
Speaking about this latest report in an article on the Belfast Telegraph website, Mr Ramsey, chief economist Northern Ireland at Ulster Bank, said:
“Northern Ireland’s private sector started the second quarter in the same way that it ended the first with businesses in expansion mode.
“Output, orders and employment all increased in April albeit the pace of growth eased relative to March. This was particularly marked with new orders as falling demand amongst manufacturers and construction firms largely offset growth within retail and services.”
He also spoke about firms still taking on new staff, saying:
“Retailers led the way in the recruitment drive, but construction firms posted a record rise in staffing levels.
“This would appear to suggest the softer demand in the sector is enabling longstanding vacancies to finally be filled.
“Supply chain disruption has blighted the economy since the pandemic first hit. But April’s survey revealed that firms saw supplier delivery times shorten for the first time since the question was introduced back in March 2021.”
Budget Cuts And A Scaling Back Of Public Services Are Going To Have Implications
He went on to speak about the worsening situation that the public sector finds itself in, saying:
“Budget cuts and a scaling back of public services will also have implications for parts of the private sector too,” he added.
“Meanwhile the headwinds of higher interest rates and increased taxation will increasingly be felt by all parts of the economy in the year ahead.”
So whilst new orders, and therefore output, continues to rise in the private sector, the scaling back of the public sector is no doubt going to raise problems which will be felt throughout the economy and also society. Whether those problems will be enough to stall the progress which is continuing in the private sector remains to be seen, let us hope most businesses can thrive and grow further in the coming months.