'Business activity rate' declines
Business activity in Northern Ireland fell at its fastest rate for three months in May, a report has said.
The private sector is still struggling to recover from the adverse economic conditions, the Ulster Bank study added.
The number of new orders in the service industries declined at their sharpest rate since March last year. Construction and services are expected to bear the brunt of the forthcoming public expenditure cuts, the dossier added.
Richard Ramsey, an economist at Ulster Bank, said: "The divergence in economic performance between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK continues, with Northern Ireland remaining the only region still experiencing declining levels of output.
"At a sector level, the divergence in performance is most apparent within the construction and service industries. Both of these sectors saw output decline at an accelerated rate in May, whereas their UK equivalents continued to report robust rates of growth."
He said there appeared to be no sign of Northern Ireland's construction and services output stabilising any time soon, with new orders continuing to fall at a rapid rate in May.
"The local services sector appears to be in an extremely weak state, new orders contracting for the 27th consecutive month and at their sharpest rate since March 2009," he added.
"Outside of the public sector, this is the sector, alongside construction, which will bear the brunt of the forthcoming public expenditure cuts."