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25,000 workers in Northern Ireland could lose their jobs due to coronavirus impact, says Dodds


Economy Minister Diane Dodds

Economy Minister Diane Dodds

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds

Up to 25,000 people could soon lose their jobs due to the economic slump in Northern Ireland, Stormont's Economy Minister warned.

House prices are also set to be negatively affected, while trade and investment are predicted to stall, Diane Dodds added.

She said: "While this analysis is based on assumptions and indicators which can, and do, change, we can say with certainty that the economic impact is set to be deep and far-reaching.

"Many across Northern Ireland will need ongoing support."

Ulster Bank's survey of businesses, published yesterday, showed evidence of steep decline.

Mrs Dodds said: "In assessing all the available economic indicators and data, my department's economists fear that the number of workers in Northern Ireland directly impacted by the shutdown could well go beyond 200,000, with widespread job losses, too, potentially as many as 25,000 in the short-term."

Official support has been promised.

The first payments under the small business grant scheme were made nine days after the original announcement.

Since then nearly 15,000 businesses have received £10,000 grants totalling almost £150 million, the minister said.

She told MLAs: "I know from speaking to owners that these payments are helping businesses to survive, to pay their staff and to plan for the future."

This scheme has been extended to include some small industrial businesses.

This expansion will cover around 2,500 additional firms.

It followed warnings that the Northern Ireland economy is enduring its "fastest and deepest" decline ever.

The latest purchasing managers' index (PMI) with Ulster Bank for March underlined the scale of the downturn.

It noted that businesses here saw a reduction in sales and output at a rate surpassing the previous record at the height of the global financial crisis in early 2009.

The survey took place largely before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a full UK-wide lockdown.

And it has been warned that "the pace of contraction will accelerate further to fresh record lows" in April.

Ulster Bank's chief economist Richard Ramsey has warned that "the pace of contraction will accelerate further to fresh record lows".

Belfast Telegraph