The latest edition of the DETI Economic Commentary, which provides an assessment of local economic conditions, was published today.
Noting the recent economic trends, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “Last year marked a turning point for our economy, and the upturn has been even more marked throughout 2014. Our private sector has been leading this recovery, with job numbers increasing for nine consecutive quarters and economic output improving.
“The recovery is also being felt in our labour market, where there has been a continuous fall in the number of unemployment benefit claimants for 22 consecutive months now, as well as improvements in both the employment and economic activity rates.”
Independent economic forecasters are predicting that the local economy will grow by 2.4%, in 2014, before slowing to 1.9% in 2015. A consistent picture across these forecasts is the divergence between a growing private sector and the public sector.
Arlene Foster said: “Independent forecasters expect us to experience solid growth in the coming years and that is welcome news, particularly in these times of heightened uncertainty, not just locally but also in the wider global economy.
“However, this growth is very much reliant on continuing to boost our private sector alongside the public expenditure challenges which are now being felt. That is why Corporation Tax, which is now almost within our grasp, is essential as a measure to help grow our economy.”
The Economic Commentary includes a specialist article on Northern Ireland’s innovation performance, which follows on from recently published R&D statistics and the NI Innovation Strategy.
The Minister added: “I welcome the continued growth of research and development expenditure in 2013, which demonstrates our commitment to developing Northern Ireland as an innovative economy. While we still have work to do in improving our wider innovation performance, the NI Executive’s recent Innovation Strategy outlines the key themes and measures that we will use as we seek to address this.”