Northern Ireland employment rises to 13-month high

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the most encouraging indicator from the survey was the increase in employment

THE rate of job creation in the north has hit a 13-month high according to the latest PMI report.

The Ulster Bank Northern Ireland Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) May data shows an increase in output and an acceleration in employment, while both input costs and output prices rose at slower rates than the previous month.

The Business Activity Index posted 53.5 in May, down slightly from 54.3 in April but still pointing to a solid monthly rise in output, led by manufacturing.

Three of the four monitored sectors registered rises in output, with the exception being retail, where activity stagnated.

Higher activity was largely reflective of new order growth and a rise in export business aided by a weak sterling.

The PMI shows employment rose at its fastest pace since April 2016, while confidence among companies improved in May, with anticipated rises in workloads leading to firms taking on extra staff and backlogs of work increasing for the first time in three months.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the most encouraging indicator from the survey concerned employment.

"Firms increased their staffing levels at their fastest rate in 13 months. The pick-up in the pace of job creation was due solely to the services industry, with all other sectors signalling a slowdown in employment growth. Service sector firms increased their staffing levels in May at the fastest rate in 17-months. This follows a sustained period of subdued growth."

“Other encouraging signs were evident within manufacturing. Output and new orders amongst manufacturing firms picked up markedly in May. Meanwhile the opposite trend was evident within retailing. Following its recent purple patch, retail activity has slowed markedly. Both retail sales and orders dropped marginally in May with sales growth at its weakest since December 2015. Construction firms reported lacklustre growth, with new orders falling for the third month in a row," he added.

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