Economic Output Statistics Published

Date published: 28 March 2018

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

Statistical press release

Services and Production Sector Output

  • Output in the services sector increased in real terms (by 0.2%) over the fourth quarter, with output at the highest point since Q3 2008. NI output in this sector is 4.5% lower than the NI series high (Q4 2006). Growth over the year (1.2%) in the sector was lower than UK growth of 1.4% over the equivalent period (Q4 2016 to Q4 2017).
  • The quarterly and annual growth in the services sector was driven by growth in the Business services and finance sector (1.1% over the quarter and 5.3% over the year), the Other services sector1 (2.3% over the quarter and 3.1% over the year), and the Transport, storage, information and communication sector (3.0% over the quarter and 5.1% over the year). In contrast there was a 1.5% decline over the quarter and 0.7% decline over the year in the largest sector (Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; accommodation and food service activities sector).
  • Production output in NI grew over the fourth quarter (by 0.9%) but fell sharply over the year (by 5.9%). The UK production sector reported an increase in output over the quarter (0.5%) and year (2.3%).
  • The quarterly growth in the NI production sector was driven by growth in the Manufacturing sector (0.9% over the quarter). There were increases in output over the quarter in the manufacturing sub sectors of Engineering and Allied Industries (8.0%) and Manufacturing of chemical and pharmaceutical products (8.7%)
  • The annual decline in production output is driven by a substantial decline in the Food, Beverages and Tobacco sub sector (41.1% fall over the year).
  • Within the production sector, there was however growth over the year in the Engineering and Allied Industries sub sector (by 12.5%) and the Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning Supply sector (by 4.9%).


  • Output in the services sector increased in real terms (by 0.2%) over the fourth quarter, with output at its highest point since Q3 2008.
  • Production sector output increased in real terms (by 0.9%) over the quarter but saw another sharp contraction in output over the year mostly due to a large fall in the manufacturing sub sector of Food, Beverages and Tobacco.
  • In the labour market, the unemployment rate fell over the year and the quarter to 3.2% which, along with May – July 2007, is the lowest on record. The employment rate (November – January 2018) increased over the year and the quarter to 69.8%; one of the highest rates in the series. At 27.8% the economic inactivity rate has improved over the quarter but has increased 1.5 percentage points since the same time last year.
  • Businesses reported an increase in employee jobs over the quarter and the year driven by an increase in private sector jobs, particularly jobs in the services sector. Employee jobs have increased by 64,270 jobs since the low point in December 2011 and are now 3% above the pre-downturn peak.

Upcoming Releases

  • From April 2018 the monthly Labour Market Report and Quarterly Employment Survey will be published one day earlier than previously announced (Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays). This is in line with the change in publication dates announced by the Office for National Statistics. 
  • In June 2018 the Quarterly Index of Production and Index of Services reports will be published one day later than previously announced (Thursday 14th June instead of Wednesday 13th June). This is because the comparable UK data, which is incorporated in the bulletins and tables, will be released one working day later.
  • In April, the NI Composite Economic Index and the Construction Output Statistics are due to be published on the 12th, and the ASHE Pension Statistics will be published on the 26th on the NISRA website.

This sector includes other activities not covered elsewhere - education, health & social work, arts, entertainment and recreation and other services.

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 are available from the NISRA website Index Services and Index Production.    
  3. Further information and tables from each of the data sources are also available at these locations.
  4. 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.
  5. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Alan Anderson, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), or Tel: 028 9052 9494.
  6. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA


Share this page

Back to top