Belfast Telegraph

Economic uncertainty 'costing jobs'

Private sector jobs are still being lost in Northern Ireland because of falling levels of new business and economic uncertainty, it has been revealed.

The rate of companies shedding workers was at its fastest last month since June 2011, the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland Purchasing Managers' Index said.

Business activity fell for the second month because of fragile demand. The rate of decline in new work was the sharpest since last September and contrasted with growth across the UK economy.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said: "Whilst the local construction sector continues to experience a torrid time in terms of lack of demand and profitability, the key concern remains with the economy's largest sector, the services industry.

"For the UK as a whole the services sector is the strongest sector by quite some margin, but in Northern Ireland the sector is contracting at the fastest rate of all sectors in terms of both output and employment."

The main findings of the January survey include business activity in the private sector fell for a second successive month during January, with the pace of reduction little changed since December. Growth was recorded at the UK-wide level.

Also, as new orders decreased in January, companies transferred spare resources to complete existing projects, prompting a further reduction in outstanding business.

Also cited was a sharp rise in costs, with the pace of inflation much stronger than across the UK economy as a whole, due to higher raw material and fuel costs.

Mr Ramsey added: "Retail recorded growth in business activity and new orders last month, but profitability remains a key concern within the industry as strong sales do not guarantee robust profits."

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