Belfast Telegraph

Treasury takes critical view of NI economy

Treasury’s paper on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy presents a highly critical view of its current state, warning that whatever steps are taken now, it will still be a quarter of a century before NI catches up.

Distinctive characteristics of NI’s economic performance, says the Treasury, include:

  • Lowest average wages in the UK;
  • UK’s second-lowest labour productivity rate after Wales;
  • Under-represented in high productivity sectors, such as finance and business services;
  • Over-represented in low productivity sectors, such as agriculture and food processing;
  • Attracts proportionately more FDI than other UK regions, but less than a third of the Republic;
  • Venture capital funding the lowest of all UK regions;
  • High proportion of small firms that are unlikely to generate employment growth at scale needed, leaving FDI responsible for job creation;
  • Worse impact from the recession than UK as a whole: unemployment in NI rose from 4.3% to 8% between end 2007 and end 2010: in UK it rose from 5.2% to 7.9%;
  • More than 30% of NI jobs in public sector, against UK average of 21%;
  • Highest economic inactivity rate in UK at 28.4%, against UK average of 23.3%;
  • Low proportion of people with graduate qualification and high proportion with no qualification;
  • 100% broadband coverage;
  • Good internal transport links and with the Republic;
  • Over past 10 years, NI employment increased by 8.2%, against 1.4% for the UK;
  • Aspects of this growth — in retail and construction — are not sustainable.

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