North's businesses 'hit harder than rest of UK'

The recession is hitting businesses in the North harder than anywhere else in the UK, new figures indicated today.

Private sector activity in the region contracted at a faster rate than any other area of Britain during the first quarter of the year, according to the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey.

The construction and retail sectors were the worst performing in the local economy since the turn of the year, the study on behalf of the Ulster Bank found.

With large scale redundancies announced at major firms such as Bombardier, FG Wilson, Visteon and Nortel in March, it comes as no surprise the PMI survey also reported a drop in the overall size of the private sector workforce in the North for the 13th month in succession.

Senior economist with the Ulster Bank Richard Ramsey said while most regions in the UK showed an improvement in economic activity in March, the North’s output continued to fall.

“According to the PMI, private sector activity in Northern Ireland has contracted at a faster rate than any other UK region during the first quarter of 2009,” he said.

“This is continuing the trend that was evident throughout 2008.”

He added: “Northern Ireland firms continued to reduce their staffing levels at a rapid rate in March.

“However, the pace of decline was more marked in the UK (as a whole), albeit marginally, for the first time in sixteen months.

“While all sectors of the economy reduced their respective headcounts in March, the rate of decline was most pronounced in the construction sector.”

The PMI also found that while local businesses continued to cut prices in an effort to generate demand, their input and production costs actually rose for the first time in four months.

It said the increased prices paid by firms for imported goods was largely due to the relative weakness of sterling.

Last week, Mr Ramsey warned that the Stormont Executive may need to call an emergency budget to tackle the recession.

He said ministers could be forced to follow their counterparts in Ireland and dramatically redraw government spending plans to help re-invigorate the struggling economy.

He claimed the projections laid out in the Executive’s three-year budget of 2008 were no longer realistic and some re-evaluation was required.


More in this Section

PM facing potential legal challenge over Brexit deal’s ‘Irish Sea border’PM facing potential legal challenge over Brexit deal’s ‘Irish Sea border’

Councillors hit out at OPW mapping system which has house in flood risk area despite it being 100ft above riverCouncillors hit out at OPW mapping system which has house in flood risk area despite it being 100ft above river

Mother who admitted suffocating daughter, 3, feared for child's future after online researchMother who admitted suffocating daughter, 3, feared for child's future after online research

Shocking footage shows tourists being robbed at gunpoint near Guinness StorehouseShocking footage shows tourists being robbed at gunpoint near Guinness Storehouse


Lifestyle

Put provenance first this season and make 'Made in Munster' the label to be seen in. With outstanding craftmanship and commitment to quality, these homegrown designers are making Munster-made fashion wish list worthy around the world. Shopping local has never looked so good. Carolyn Moore reports.Made in Munster: Shopping local has never looked this good.

Karen Cunneen-Bilbow Owner, Fabricate IrelandMade in Munster: ‘I turned my hobby into a business’

An invitation is extended to all to pay a visit to Bride View Cottage, writes Charlie WilkinsSeasonal cheer will spread early in Co Cork as an invitation is extended to all to visit Bride View Cottage

After a week of Fortnite Chapter 2, we think it’s fair to say Epic lived up to their name with the game’s ‘re-launch’.GameTech: Happy after a week of Fortnite Chapter 2

More From The Irish Examiner