Report predicts modest growth for NI

Published Wednesday, 30 April 2014
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Modest growth of 2% has been predicted for Northern Ireland in 2014 and 2015.

A report from PwC said output growth expectations in the private sector rose faster than a number of parts of the UK in the three months to February, and matched the UK average.

However the group's chief economist for NI added that the region remains well behind other regions in terms of forecast economic growth and is not closing the gap.

Dr Esmond Birnie said: "We are forecasting that the local economy will grow by around 2% in 2014 and 2015, which is less optimistic than some other commentators."

PwC warned of a 'two-speed recovery', saying that while there has been nine months of improvement in manufacturing and services, construction and retail remain depressed.

It said this mixed private sector performance suggests that unskilled and low-paid workers may not experience the full benefits of recovery.

Dr Birnie continued: "Consumer confidence is at a five-year high and there is a general sense of optimism in the local economy, nevertheless low income households have suffered disproportionally as inflation ran ahead of wages, while fuel poverty is the highest of the 12 UK regions.

"Average property prices at the end of 2013 averaged around £115,000, that's over £3,000 more than a year previously, so the property market is coming back, albeit slowly.

"However, Northern Ireland has the UK's highest level of negative equity and remains overly reliant on the public sector where the austerity programme is set to become even tighter."

© UTV News
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