Economy maintains its upwards momentum in Northern Ireland - despite contracting public sector
THE north's overall economy has grown by 1.6 per cent over the last year, according to the latest Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index.
Output was also up 1 per cent in the quarter leading up to the Brexit referendum - about a third better than the UK average (and the third quarter running where Northern Ireland outperformed Britain).
The growth, the biggest in three years, was driven by a 2 per cent uplift in the services sector but also flashes of encouragement in both construction and production.
The services sector currently employs around 13,000 people in Northern Ireland and includes contact centres, management consultancy, security services, facilities management, recruitment services and business-to-business services.
But the increases were offset by a decrease over the year in the public sector jobs index, where thousands of staff have left, having availed of a Stormont-funded civil service voluntary exit scheme.
The private sector enjoyed growth over the year to June of 2.9 per cent, but the public sector shrank by 2.6 per cent over the same period.
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the statistics painted a "positive picture" of the economy and "demonstrate that we are moving in the right direction".
He said: "A 1.6 per cent growth in the economy and economic activity as a result of rises in the services, construction and production sectors is encouraging.
"Importantly it is the private sector that continues to drive overall growth, again illustrating that the Executive's approach to rebalancing the economy is working.
"I am also encouraged to see that the quarterly growth in Northern Ireland activity is again greater than that recorded for the UK as a whole."
He said he was "totally committed" to transforming the north into a globally competitive economy, adding: "Being a globally competitive economy won't mean we will become one of the biggest economies in the world.
"But what it does mean is that we will have a well earned, totally justified, evidence based reputation as one of the world's most dynamic, innovative and high performing small advanced economies.
"I want to create an economy that works for everyone in Northern Ireland where more of our companies are outward looking and exporting goods, products and services outside of our region.
"I want our economy to continue on the present path of constant improvement, growing in size and rebalancing from the public to the private sector.”
The detailed statistical bulletin is available at www.detini.gov.uk/articles/northern-ireland-composite-economic-index-nicei