Belfast Telegraph

It's a case of deja vu as things can only get better

By David Elliot

In 1997 I had just completed my first year in full-time employment. It didn't feel like it at the time given I was still in shock at the transition from a time-rich cash-poor student to a time-poor cash-poor worker but it appears I was one of the lucky ones.

I was in fact lucky to have a job given the unemployment level in Northern Ireland was over 60,000 and UK gross domestic product was a measly 1%. Homegrown band D:Ream's hit song Things Can Only Get Better, which incidentally was adopted by Tony Blair's newly elected government in 1997 as their rallying call, seemed to sum up the feeling at the time just nicely.

It's now 2011 and you could be forgiven for thinking very little has changed. I'm still cash-poor time-poor, GDP stands at 0.2% and the unemployment level in Northern Ireland has broken back up through the 60,000 barrier by 400.

The labour stats show that we seem to have taken two steps forward and two steps back as far as the local economy is concerned.

Of course, you could roll out the old line that employment figures tend to be a lagging indicator of economic health but if you look at the global economy, which we as exporters are at the mercy of, then the road ahead doesn't look too rosy.

We've all of a sudden become so interested in the global economy because our economic future is going to be dictated to a large extent by its health. And as far as it's concerned, things really can only get better.