Business

Northern Ireland more prosperous than year ago, despite economic uncertainty

Northern Ireland's prosperity is on the up

EVEN with the economic uncertainty surrounding the UK's decision to leave the European Union, Northern Ireland is more prosperous now than it was a year ago.

The latest Prosperity Index from Barclays found a boost in average earnings, house prices and the north's GDP had lifted the region.

Indeed, the uplift even outpaced London.

Barclays found average earnings to have increased 9 per cent in the past year to £23,643.

That represented the greatest increase of anywhere in the UK.

A 4 per cent growth in house prices and an 11.3 per cent increase in GDP per capita also boosted prosperity.

The prosperity comes despite a turbulent economic year marked by volatile stock markets, a slowdown in the Chinese economy and all the uncertainty that came with the EU referendum.

And while GDP outpaced Britain, property prices in the north also grew faster than many regions.

The growth in Northern Ireland's housing market exceeded that experienced in Wales and Scotland, as well as northern pars of England.

However, it wasn't all good news - at least for those at the top end of the economic ladder.

The north is home to 13,000 millionaires and holds 2 per cent of the total UK's millionaires.

But that is a reduction of of 1,000 millionaires on 2014 figures, which equated to a 7.1 per cent decline.

Across the UK , there are 690,000 people in the UK who are worth at least seven figures; this is the equivalent of 1 in every 67 adults being a millionaire.

Although this is a slight dip in comparison to 2015, falling by 3.8 per cent, the longer term trend paints a better picture, with the number of millionaires increasing by 34 per cent since 2010.

In the rest of the UK, every region has become more prosperous than last year, with uplifts in either household wealth, GDP, household expenditure or earnings, and a decrease in unemployment.

Jonathan Dobbin, head of wealth and investment management at Barclays in the north said it was "very encouraging to see that prosperity in Northern Ireland is on an upwards trajectory".

"In 2015, we had the highest levels of educational attainment right across the UK regions; an increase in GDP and average earnings, and a reduction in unemployment," he said.

"It's clear that we have the skillset to compete with other regions when it comes to providing the right conditions to start and grow a successful business and drive prosperity more widely.

“With positive growth in prosperity recorded across the UK, it is clear that Northern Ireland is playing a key role in this trend. It is more important than ever that business leaders and policy makers continue to create new opportunities to keep our region, and the UK as a whole, ‘open for business' and continuing on this trajectory.”

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