The economic gloom was lifted a little in Northern Ireland today when a pharmaceutical company announced it was creating nearly 130 jobs.
Co Armagh-based company Almac said it was creating 99 full time and 28 temporary posts and held out the prospect of more to come.
Over 90% of the permanent jobs are for graduates, with scientists in particular being sought.
The fast-growing Craigavon company is boosting its staff after taking on 250 people last year, bringing its Northern Ireland workforce to 1,559 and 2,422 worldwide.
It said 20 of the full-time posts were filled in January with an additional 25 due to start this month. A further 54 are being advertised.
Almac provides research, development and manufacturing services for more than 600 companies world wide and the jobs are being created across the range of the company's research and pharmaceutical development activities.
Chief executive Alan Armstrong said he was confident that 2009 would be a year of significant growth for the company.
The continued growth in employee numbers has extended to Almac's US operations where 52 new recruits have joined the company since the start of the year.
Mr Armstrong said: "Last year we grew our employee numbers by 15% in Northern Ireland. In the first two months of this year we will have recruited 99 full-time staff and an additional 28 temporary workers.
"This is down to the continued success of the company in the pharmaceutical sector and particularly in the clinical trial and research areas.
"Almac is a Northern Ireland organisation which is operating at the very highest level of pharmaceutical development."
The vast majority of positions they were seeking to fill would require a third level qualification, he said.
"So despite the negativity which may exist there are opportunities for local graduates to enter employment. We are particularly looking for graduates qualified in scientific disciplines," added Mr Armstrong.
The company was continuing to invest in both people and structures. In Craigavon they had put in new IT systems and infrastructure and later in the year would be opening a new analytical annex.
In Philadelphia, considerable progress had been made on their new US headquarters.
"We believe strongly in both the quality of our staff and the service we provide for our clients. The success of this business is driven by its employees, and this year will see an ever increasing number joining the Almac family," said Mr Armstrong.