Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland economy grows by 0.4%

Construction site Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Northern Ireland's construction sector showed growth

The Northern Ireland economy grew by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2016 according to official figures.

The statistics are measured using the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI), which is roughly equivalent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

They are the most up-to-date figures for the economy.

The quarterly expansion of 0.4% was in line with UK GDP growth in the same period.

Compared to quarter one in 2015, the economy is estimated to be 0.7% bigger, compared to 2% growth for the UK as a whole.

The NI Statistics and Research Agency, which produces the data, said there is "some evidence that the rate of growth in NI over the last year is slowing".

In quarter one of 2015, the annual growth rate was 1.8% and has fallen in every subsequent quarter including the latest annual rate of 0.7%.

The main driver of growth over the quarter was the services sector - it is the largest part of the private sector and expanded by 0.3% percentage points.

The construction sector also showed growth while the production sector and public sector showed slight falls in output.

Construction recovery

Meanwhile, separate official figures suggest a patchy recovery in the construction sector is continuing.

The NI construction bulletin showed the total volume of output in Northern Ireland in the first quarter of 2016 was up by 3.4% over the quarter and up by 2.3% over the year.

The increase was accounted for by a 12.9% rise in repair and maintenance work while there was only a marginal 0.2% increase in new work output.

Across the different sectors infrastructure work was up by 9.6% over the quarter while housing output was down by 1.6%.

The figures only cover work in Northern Ireland and so do not account for the output of Northern Ireland-based firms operating elsewhere in the UK.

Northern Ireland's largest construction firms do the bulk of their work in England and Scotland.

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