Economic analysis

Fresh insights and perspectives on the UK and Northern Ireland economies

My name is Conor Lambe and I am the Chief Economist at Danske Bank.

I am responsible for the Bank’s economic analysis and forecasts, write regular opinion articles for the Northern Irish media and frequently speak at local business events.

Economic analysis is a useful tool for many businesses. It can help you to understand what is driving the performance of the economy and whether current trends are likely to continue, as well as what the implications could mean for your business.

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Flash comments

Regular commentary on the main economic data releases and events in Northern Ireland and the UK

  • NI labour market data: Apr - Jun 2019

    NI labour market data: Apr - Jun 2019

    Commenting on the latest figures, Danske Bank Chief Economist Conor Lambe, said:

    “Today’s data painted another relatively positive picture of the Northern Ireland labour market. The employment rate hit a record high and, despite increasing over the quarter, the unemployment rate remains low by historical standards and when compared with the overall UK unemployment rate.

    “Perhaps the most eye-catching news from these figures is that the economic inactivity rate fell to the lowest rate on record. High economic inactivity represents one of Northern Ireland’s long-term economic challenges so this fall is clearly to be welcomed. However, it’s important to note that the local economic inactivity rate is still considerably higher than the UK average and is the highest of the twelve regions of the UK. Reducing the rate of economic inactivity needs to remain a key objective of policymakers in Northern Ireland.

    “Looking forward, the threat of leaving the EU without a deal at the end of October remains the most significant risk facing the Northern Ireland economy. If we are to build on the recent strong performance of the labour market, then it’s vital that a no-deal Brexit is avoided.”

    This comment was published in response to the April – June 2019 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA on 13 August 2019.


  • NI labour market data: Mar - May 2019

    NI labour market data: Mar - May 2019

    Commenting on the latest figures, Danske Bank Chief Economist Conor Lambe, said:

    “Despite the subdued rate of economic growth and the high level of uncertainty, the Northern Ireland labour market continues to show its resilience.

    “From March-May 2019, the employment rate hit a series high and there was a welcome fall in the rate of economic inactivity. While there was a small rise in the unemployment rate compared with the previous quarter, it still remains well below its long-term average.

    “When compared against Northern Ireland’s historical labour market data, these latest figures paint a relatively positive picture. But when compared nationally – while the local unemployment rate is lower – Northern Ireland still lags behind the wider UK on some metrics. The local employment rate is the second lowest of the twelve regions of the UK and the inactivity rate is still considerably higher than the overall UK rate. The Northern Ireland labour market still has room for improvement but has recently been heading in the right direction.”  

    This comment was published in response to the March – May 2019 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA on 16 July 2019.


  • UK inflation data: February 2019

    UK inflation data: February 2019

    Commenting on the latest figures, Danske Bank Chief Economist Conor Lambe said:

    “UK inflation increased slightly to 1.9 per cent in February, which was the first increase since last August. But, despite the rise, inflation remained below the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target for the second month in succession.

    “Looking beyond the headline figure and at the different categories of goods and services, the largest price rises were for alcohol and tobacco and in the communication category which includes postal services, mobile phones and internet subscriptions.

    “There were also quite strong price rises within the transport category, for example the price of new cars increased by 5 per cent over the year to February, and for recreational activities.

    “The one category in which prices fell over the year was clothing and footwear. This was the sixth consecutive month in which the price of clothes and shoes decreased.

    “The latest labour market data showed that wages for employees in Great Britain increased by 3.4 per cent over the year to November – January. So, despite the small rise in inflation, the rate of real wage growth remains firmly in positive territory, as it has been for some months now.”

    This comment was published in response to the February 2019 UK inflation data published by the ONS on 20 March 2019.