Northern Ireland private sector remains in deep downturn
Christian Fernsby | ▼ June 9, 2020
Ulster Bank IHS Markit report signalled further steep declines in business activity and new orders in the Northern Ireland private sector as the coronavirus crisis continued.
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Rates of contraction were softer than the records posted in April as lockdowns began to ease, but were still sharper than any seen prior to the current crisis.
Commenting on the latest survey findings, Richard Ramsey, Chief Economist Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, said: “Northern Ireland’s private sector reported some easing in the record rates of decline witnessed in April across output, orders and employment.
However, these improvements were relatively modest and perhaps weaker than anticipated.
Indeed, firms reported their second lowest readings on record for business activity and new orders.
And once again, Northern Ireland recorded the fastest rates of decline in output of the 12 UK regions.
“On the employment front, however, Northern Ireland’s rate of job losses compared favourably with most other regions.
Nevertheless, the reduction in staffing levels reported by local firms was still on a par with the worst months of the global financial crisis.
Clearly the ongoing Job Retention Scheme is preventing widespread redundancies….for now.
“All four sectors monitored in the survey reported severe reductions in output and order books.
Manufacturing and retail managed to post readings in the twenties whereas services and construction were in the teens.
On a more encouraging note, some 15% of manufacturing firms reported a rise in output in May relative to the previous month.
However, these firms were outnumbered more than four-toone by those indicating a decline in activity.
Services firms are faring less well than manufacturing, with just 1 in 20 reporting an increase in activity in May.
Meanwhile almost three-quarters of firms within the services industry reported a fall in activity last month, down from 90% in April." ■ What to read next
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