Belfast Telegraph

Tale of two sectors: services surge but production slowing

JTI Gallaher's in Ballymena.
JTI Gallaher's in Ballymena.
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Output in the local production sector has fallen by nearly 5% over the year with the closure of JTI Gallaher's in Ballymena contributing to the slump, according to a survey.

But the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) report pointed to a different story within the services sector - which covers everything from estate agents to restaurants.

Services output was at a 10-year high, with growth of 0.7% over the first quarter of the year. However, output was still below its all-time high in 2006.

There was growth in the services sector over the year of 1.1% - slightly below the UK's growth of 1.2%.

And within the production sector findings, there was a fall of 13% in the mining and quarrying sector and a 0.9% drop in manufacturing year on year during the first quarter of 2018.

Within manufacturing, there was a year-on-year fall in the output of food, beverage and tobacco products of 41% - reflecting the end of production at the Co Antrim cigarette factory.

In contrast, the production sector in the UK had grown by 1.7% over the same period.

Within services, there was growth of 3.9% over the quarter in Northern Ireland and of 2.5% over the year.

Nisra said: "The services sector has continued to grow with annual growth recorded for the last 14 reporting periods.

"This is in contrast to the production sector where there has been decreases reported in four of the last five quarters."

Within the services sector, a sub-sector that encompasses the wholesale and retail trade, as well as accommodation and food services among other activities, contributed the strongest growth, with expansion of 3.9% over the quarter and 2.5% over the year.

The sub-sector transport, storage, information and communication sector added growth of 0.8% over the quarter and 3.5% over the year.

However, there was decline of 5.9% over the quarter and 3.5% over the year in a sector that encompasses categories such as education, the arts and recreation.

And unlike the production sector, the local services sector was growing at a similar rate to the UK.

Both the Northern Ireland and UK services sectors were reporting growth of 1.3%.

Belfast Telegraph