More cash in pockets but Northern Ireland income still lowest in UK
Northern Ireland people are feeling better off because of low inflation, but our disposable incomes are still the lowest in the UK, says a study published today.
The regular income tracker from low-price supermarket Asda said families in the region were £12 richer during March.
The increase equated to a 14.8% rise in average disposable income here - the largest percentage increase of any UK region.
Falling oil prices - feeding into prices at the pump - also benefited people here because we spend the biggest proportion of our income on petrol out of any region of the UK.
But Asda said disposable income was still lagging far behind the rest of the country.
Families here had just £92 per week money left over after bills - nearly half the UK average and less than 40% of the weekly disposable income of a family living in London.
The latest Asda findings echo research from earlier this month which found that Northern Ireland has taken the biggest hit in living standards in the UK. Think tank the UK Resolution Foundation said that Northern Ireland had fallen from being the region with the fourth-lowest income per household in 2007 to the lowest last year.
However, family spending power across the UK as monitored by Asda has now been growing for 18 months in a row.
Andy Clarke, the president and chief executive of the supermarket, said: "Wherever you live in the UK, this month's tracker brings more positive news for those holding the purse strings."
Mr Clarke added that he believed the economy was on the road to recovery, and that the gap between regions was narrowing.
He said evidence of rising disposable incomes in regions such as the Midlands and Northern Ireland "supports my belief this recovery is real and sustainable".
Asda said the UK was enjoying the benefits of 0% inflation - the lowest level for 55 years - in falls in the cost of clothes and shoes.
Sam Alderson, economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, added: "Price falls in sections of household purchases have helped relieve pressure on finances.
"Family spending power has now risen year-on-year for 18 consecutive months.
"With the outlook for inflation looking subdued for much of the year, households should now see further recoveries in their finances in 2015."