Economic Output Statistics

Date published: 14 June 2018

The economic output statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Services Sector Output

  • Output in the services sector increased in real terms (by 0.7%) over the first quarter of 2018 (January to March), with output at its highest point since Quarter 3 (Q3) 2008.  Northern Ireland (NI) output in this sector is 4.2% lower than the NI series high (Q4 2006). Growth over the year (1.1%) in the sector was just below UK growth of 1.2% over the equivalent period (Q1 2017 to Q1 2018).
  • The quarterly and annual growth in the services sector was driven by growth in the Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; accommodation and food service activities sector (3.9% over the quarter and 2.5% over the year) and in the Transport, storage, information and communication sector (0.8% over the quarter and 3.5% over the year). In contrast there was a 5.9% decline over the quarter and 3.5% decline over the year in the Other services sector (this sector includes other activities not covered elsewhere - education, health and social work, arts, entertainment and recreation and other services) and a 0.3% decline over the quarter and the year in the Business services and finance sector.
  • In the longer term, when the most recent four quarters are compared to the previous four quarters, both the NI and UK services sectors reported annualised growth of 1.3% to Quarter 1 2018.

Production Sector Output

  • Production output in NI fell marginally over the first quarter (by 0.2%) but sharply over the year (by 5.1%). The UK production sector reported an increase in output over the quarter (0.6%) and year (2.0%).
  • The change in the IOP is caused by quarterly increases in the Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning Supply sector and the Water Supply, Sewerage and Waste Management (including Recycling) sector of 1.4% and 5.6% respectively, offset by a 13.1% fall in the Mining and Quarrying sector, (which accounts for 2.5% of the index), and a 0.9% fall in the Manufacturing sector. The Manufacturing sector itself contained quarterly subsector rises, but falls in the indices for Manufacture of Food, Beverages and Tobacco products; Manufacture of Basic Metals and Fabricated Metal Products; and Manufacturing of Computer, Electronic, Electrical and Optical Products (5.7%, 3.2% and 3.5% respectively).
  • Looking at a longer term trend, when the most recent four quarters are compared to the previous four quarters, output in the NI production sector fell by 4.6%, with the whole of the UK reporting growth on this basis of 1.7%.


  • The services sector has continued to grow with annual growth recorded for the last fourteen reporting periods. This is in contrast to the production sector where there has been decreases reported in four of the last five quarters back to the beginning of 2017. Over this period the labour market has continued to improve with further growth in employee jobs and unemployment close to the series record low point.
  • Output in the services sector increased in real terms (by 0.7%) over the first quarter of 2018, with output at its highest point since Q3 2008. Production sector output remained broadly flat (down 0.2% over the quarter in real terms) but is still 9.3% above the minimum recorded point in Q3 2009.
  • In the labour market, the unemployment rate fell over the year and rose over the quarter to 3.3% which is the third lowest on record. The employment rate (February - April 2018) increased over the year and fell over the quarter to 69.7%. At 27.9% the economic inactivity rate remained steady over the quarter but has increased 0.7 percentage points since the same time last year.
  • The total number of employee jobs increased over the quarter (6,090 jobs) and over the year (18,610 jobs) to a series high of 763,440. The annual growth has been driven by an increase in private sector jobs, and an increase in services sector jobs.

Upcoming Releases

  • The Annual Business Inquiry Local Unit report for 2016 results will be published on 20 June.
  • The next Labour Market Report will be published on 17 July.
  • The Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index and Quarterly Construction Enquiry reports for quarter 1 2018 will be published on 19 July.
  • The Index of Production and Index of Services reports for quarter 2 2018 will be published on 13 September.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This report will be of interest to Ministers, policy makers, public bodies, the business community, banks, economic commentators, academics and the general public with an interest in the local economy.
  2. The detailed statistical bulletins including tables from each of the data sources are available on the NISRA website Index of Services page and the NISRA website Index of Production page
  3. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
  4. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Alan Anderson, Economic and Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), or Tel: 028 9052 9494.

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