Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland economy to expand 1.2% in 2019, but jobs growth set to slow

Uncertainty: Conor Lambe
Uncertainty: Conor Lambe
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's economy is expected to grow by 1.2% this year in the face of uncertainty around Brexit and pressure on household budgets, according to a new report.

Danske Bank's sectoral outlook today said the economy had grown by 1.1% last year, with growth predicted to pick up slightly in 2019.

The bank had upgraded the forecast for growth this year from 1.1% and also upped its estimate for 2018 from 1%.

It said 2018 had been a year of "modest" growth, with expansion hampered by uncertainty over the terms of the UK's exit from the EU, as well as the stalemate in Northern Ireland politics.

Employment growth had been strong, at 1.9%, but would slow to 0.5% in 2019.

The bank's chief economist Conor Lambe said Brexit and general political uncertainty still remain the two biggest risks to economic growth here.

"Despite being less than three months away from the date upon which the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, there is still a large degree of uncertainty regarding the final Brexit outcome," he added.

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"A range of potential Brexit scenarios remains possible, one of which is a no-deal Brexit.

"While considered an unlikely outcome, a no-deal Brexit, and the disruption that it would result in, is undoubtedly the biggest risk facing the UK and Northern Ireland economies at present."

Nonetheless, growth would take place during 2019, the bank predicted, and would be underpinned by the services sector. Administrative and support services, professional, scientific and technical services and information and communication would lead the way in growth in the services sector.

And Mr Lambe said the slight upward revision in the forecast for 2018 had followed the recovery of the production sector, which includes manufacturing, during the third quarter.

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Belfast Telegraph