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Economy grows through Elizabethan age

By Clare Weir

Published 01/06/2012

Economic output in Northern Ireland is about five times higher than it was 60 years ago - growing slightly more rapidly than the UK average, according to a new report.

A study to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee from economists PricewaterhouseCooper has also revealed that the average weekly salary for a man in Northern Ireland has risen from £6.25 to £463.50 since 1952.

The paper shows that historically strong industries like aerospace and food and drink are still performing well - and that there are similar challenges faced by local politicians in terms of high unemployment rates, low productivity and high energy prices.

In Northern Ireland in 1952 the weekly wage of an engineering labourer was 124 shillings and 10 pence, about £6.25 in decimal money.

The research has shown that back in 1952, nearly 150,000 people were directly dependent on farming for their livelihood, while today's figure would be close to a third of that.

In 1952, 16,500 people worked in shipbuilding, 7,800 in marine engineering, 6,200 in textile machinery and 49,600 in linen manufacturing.

The report said that while most of those industries are now consigned to the history books, the level of employment in food and drink and aerospace sectors remains roughly the same as that in 1952.

Esmond Birnie, PwC's chief economist in Northern Ireland said: "Economists, like others, sometimes focus too much on the immediate difficulties. Currently we are preoccupied by the extremely weak UK recovery and the threat of disruption in the Eurozone.

"However, what our Jubilee analysis clearly shows is that over the last 60 years the Northern Ireland economy has grown immensely. That's a more cheery thought for the holiday barbecue."

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