North’s summer economic malaise continues into September

Employment only ‘bright spot’ as business activity remains weak, Ulster Bank snapshot finds

Business activity contracted again in Northern Ireland last month, with private sector output and new orders falling once more, although employment numbers continued to increase, contrasting with the trend seen across the UK.

Input costs and output prices rose further, but at rates that were much weaker than seen over the past three years, according to the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland purchasing managers’ index (PMI).

“Northern Ireland’s economic malaise during the summer months continued into the autumn with a further loss of momentum in the local private sector during September,” said Richard Ramsey, chief economist for Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland.

“Whilst all but one of the UK regions saw a similar trend of falling output, Northern Ireland was near the bottom of the table with only the North East and Yorkshire & Humberside experiencing sharper rates of decline. It is a similar story with new orders, which contracted for the fourth month in succession.”


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The decline was seen across all sectors but was most significant within construction, which posted its biggest monthly decline in orders this year.

“Despite the recent fall in customer demand, manufacturers, retailers and firms within the services sector remain more optimistic about prospects in 12 months’ time. Conversely, construction firms are expecting demand conditions to deteriorate further over the year,” Mr Ramsey said.

Employment remained a “bright spot”, however. Firms reported efforts to expand capacity and the filling of previously vacant positions. Companies also remained optimistic about the 12-month outlook for activity, with sentiment improving slightly from the previous survey period.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics