Belfast has enjoyed the seventh fastest disposable income rise - almost 20% - in the UK in recent years, accountants said today.
Britain's economy is on course to shrink in the first three months of next year as business confidence slides, according to a new survey.
Accountant BDO said its business optimism index, that looks two quarters ahead, is indicating "negative growth" for the first quarter of 2012. For the first time since July 2009 optimism among both manufacturing and services firms was below the level that indicates expansion, it added.
Manufacturers' confidence especially has tumbled, BDO said.
Peter Hemington, a partner at BDO, said: "Businesses' hiring intentions point to more job losses ahead which, coupled with tumbling optimism and output, indicates tough times in early 2012."
Last week, official data showed the UK economy grew even slower than previously thought in the first two quarters of 2011.
Gross domestic product grew 0.1% between April and June, compared with an earlier estimate of 0.2%, while the first quarter was downgraded to 0.4% from 0.5%, the Office for National Statistics said.