Northern Ireland

Service sector output reaches highest level in decade

A waiter serving glasses of wine Image copyright Getty Images

Output in the Northern Ireland service sector reached its highest level in almost 10 years in the first quarter of 2018.

The sector grew by 0.7% compared with the last quarter of 2017 and is 1.1% bigger when compared with the same period last year.

Services make up the dominant part of the Northern Ireland economy.

Retail and hospitality - the largest subsection of services - grew strongly, with output up by 2.5% year-on-year.

There was also growth in transport and IT, while business services and finance were flat.

Overall, service sector output is still 4.2% below the pre-crisis peak reached at the end of 2006.

Cigarette factory closure

Official figures for manufacturing showed a continuing decline.

Output was down by 0.9% compared with the last quarter of 2017 and by more than 7% compared with the same period last year.

Those figures are still being distorted by the closure of the JTI cigarette factory in Ballymena.

The subsector, which includes tobacco manufacturing, was down by more than 40% year-on-year.

There was better news in the engineering subsector, with output up by 9.3% year-on-year.

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