Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland: Getting the balance between job creation and economic performance

By Margaret Canning

Successful economics is a balancing act, and it's one which is becoming more and more precarious in Northern Ireland by the day.

Invest NI knows only too well that its achievements in job creation are being counter-balanced by its failings in manufacturing, which are more or less due to factors beyond its control.

And while unemployment is falling, with no little thanks due to Invest NI for its prolific job creation activity, it seems the bounty is not being shared evenly.

Jobs growth is unduly benefiting the over-50s, according to Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey. Around one in five young people is jobless, a much higher rate than in other parts of the UK, while their mums and dads manage to stay in work.

Yet the conundrum is that we perform much better on job creation than other parts of the UK, becoming the second best-performing region for absolute employment growth, according to PwC.

Between 2009-2014, employment grew by 8.3% - far surpassing regions like the south-east of England, at 5.4%, and Scotland, at 4%.

Yet GVA simply hasn't kept up with the pace of job creation - in fact, in the five years to 2014, GVA fell 1% in nominal terms - the only region to decline. Getting the balance between job creation and economic performance right may be the biggest task we face.

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