Business

Northern Ireland economy grew by 0.4 per cent over first quarter

Private sector activity increased 1.6 per cent over the year

NORTHERN Ireland's economy grew by 0.4 per cent over the first quarter of the year, according to official figures.

It puts growth in the north on a par with the rest of the UK over the period,

The increase in the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index was driven by a rise in activity in the services and construction sectors.

However, these were offset by slight contraction in the production sector and a fall in the number of public sector jobs.

The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (Nisra), which compiles the index, said the economy by 0.7 per cent from the first three months in 2015 to the first quarter in 2016.

The index for private sector activity for the 12-month period showed a 1.6 per cent increase while the public sector index fell by 2.2 per cent.

Activity in the public sector was impacted by the voluntary exit scheme seeking to reduce the number of civil servants.

Nisra said that when the trend in the index is considered over the last two years there is "some evidence of a slowdown in the rate of growth".

Meanwhile, the north lagged behind UK as a whole were GDP grew by 2 per cent over the year.

The agency also released the Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin which found construction output was up 3.4 per cent in the first quarter and 2.3 per cent higher than the same three-month period in 2015.

The increase in the overall output was accounted for by a 12.9 per cent increase in repair and maintenance and a slight increase of 0.2 per cent in new work.

Infrastructure activity increased by 9.6 per cent, followed by 'other work' (9.1 per cent) while housing output decreased 1.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, overall construction output in Britain decreased by 1.1 per cent on the previous quarter.

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