Belfast Telegraph

NI's economic growth set to slow down with fall in permanent jobs

Warning: Paul Mac Flynn
Warning: Paul Mac Flynn

By David Chance

Economic growth in Northern Ireland will slow down in 2019 with any expansion in the jobs market concentrated in part-time and temporary work, according to a report today

The Nevin Economic Research Institute (Neri) said that the economic gap between both sides of the border would grow as Brexit looms. While Northern Ireland's growth slows down, the Republic's economy is at "mild risk" of overheating, and tipped for further growth, according to the all Ireland Quarterly Economic Observer today.

The latest data for Northern Ireland showed its economy grew by 2.1% in the 12 months to the third quarter of last year. But based on a rolling four quarter average, the annualised rate stood at just 0.5% versus 1.6% at the same period in 2017, Neri said.

"On current spending plans, day to day spending in Northern Ireland will have decreased to £9.9bn in real terms by 2019/20," the think-tank said.

"Even if austerity ended this April, we would still be £600m below where we were in 2010."

Neri said that economic recovery in Northern Ireland had seen a sharp shift to part-time and temporary work with fewer opportunities for progression and training.

According to Neri, the number of full-time jobs rose by 3,000 in the 12 months to the end of 2018. There was an increase of 22,000 in the number of part-time workers while the number of temporary workers rose by 10,000.

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The outlook would be significantly worse in the event of a hard Brexit, Neri warned, noting that the gap between the performance of the two economies on the island would widen if trade and other direct links were broken

Even in the best of circumstances, cross-border economic co-operation was more of a promise than reality, said Paul Mac Flynn, a senior economist at the think-tank. "The potential that has been there was never realised," he said.

However, in the Republic, the short-term outlook was positive, with real gross domestic product tipped to grow by 4% if there is a soft Brexit, the trade-union affiliated body said. It expects wages to rise, with average hourly earnings growing 3%.

Belfast Telegraph