Northern Ireland economy set for underwhelming growth in 2018 and 2019
In the first quarter of 2018, the Northern Ireland economy experienced a rather sluggish start to the year as a combination of above-target inflation, adverse weather conditions and continuing political uncertainty, regarding both the lack of an Executive and Brexit, acted as a drag on growth.
The economy is expected to perform slightly better in the rest of the year but consumers and businesses are still facing challenges. Household spending power is slowly recovering but consumers remain under some pressure and heightened uncertainty surrounding Brexit is negatively affecting business investment. These factors are likely to lead to underwhelming economic growth of 0.9% in 2018 and 1.1% in 2019.
One positive that came out of the data for the start of 2018 was a very healthy rate of jobs growth, with the highest annual increase in the overall number of employee jobs since the series began in 2005. Given this strong data, we have revised our forecast for employment growth in 2018 upwards from 0.4% in our last report to 0.7% in the latest release.