Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

All the signs are looking positive, but we still have much work to do

David Elliott
David Elliott

PMIs, GDPs and the rest of the abbreviated indicators which we rely on for a slightly delayed insight into the health of the Northern Ireland economy are all pointing northwards.

Manufacturers, services and even the badly bruised construction sectors are all in more buoyant form than they've been for many's a year.

Even the property market is lining itself up as one which, although far from being as safe as, well, houses, looks to have limited downside.

That's obviously not the sexiest of outlooks, especially when compared to the boom years of 2000-2007, but in this day and age it's an investment attribute which should be cherished.

But before we get too carried away, it's worth remembering that we've many more lengths to swim before we can throw away the armbands which have kept us afloat during these unprecedented economic times.

Most important of all is the jobs market, one which has shed some 35,000 workers since the peak of the boom and one which won't recover overnight.

And it's not all good news for those in employment given wages, according to PwC's latest report, have fallen nearly 10% here compared to 8.5% across the UK as a whole.

So how do we create plenty of well-paid jobs? By nurturing the indigenous businesses already on these shores and encouraging more foreign direct investment from global businesses.

Last weekend's rioting helps neither of these, particularly when potential inward investors or export partners read, watch or listen to news reports depicting the violence.

But we, as an economy, have proved in the past we can get past such obstacles and by doing so can improve our prosperity, a factor which it is no coincidence increased in line with the onset of peace here.

So while it might not seem like it, things really are looking up.