Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index Quarter 1 2020

Date published: 16 July 2020

The Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI) Q1 2020 was published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index Quarter 1 2020
Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index Quarter 1 2020

Key points

NI Economic output decreased over the quarter and the year.

  • The NICEI indicates that economic output decreased by 2.8 per cent over the quarter to March 2020. Meanwhile economic output in the year to Quarter 1 (Q1) 2020 decreased by 3.2 per cent in real terms compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
  • The decrease in the NICEI over the latest quarter (2.8 per cent) was driven by decreased activity in the Services, Production and Construction sectors; which had negative contributions of 2.2 percentage points (pps), 0.5 pps and 0.1 pps respectively.  The contribution of the Public sector remained flat over the quarter.

The NICEI indicates that NI economic activity fell faster than UK GDP over the quarter and the year.

  • Although the measures are not produced on a fully equivalent basis, comparisons with the UK show that UK GDP fell by 2.2 per cent over the quarter and 1.7 per cent over the year to Q1 2020.

Decreases in the Private sector over the quarter and year compared to a decrease in the Public sector over the quarter but an increase over the year.

  • Private sector output decreased over the quarter (3.5%) and over the year (4.5%) to March 2020. The Public sector jobs index decreased by 0.2% over the quarter but increased by 1.1 per cent over the year.
  • For the Private sector, average growth for the four quarters to Quarter 1 2020 compared to the previous four quarters decreased by 1.0 per cent. Whilst the Public sector (employee jobs) index increased by 1.3 per cent over the same period.


  • The NISRA NICEI indicates that the fall in economic growth over the quarter, year and rolling annual average to Q1 2020 was driven by the decreases in all the Private sector components of the economy. This is not surprising given the current situation.
  • Whist Economic activity had been increasing gradually in recent years following the prolonged downturn post 2007; in Q1 2020, the NICEI fell to a level last seen at the end of 2015.
  • NISRA estimates that output in the NI economy declined at a faster rate than that experienced by the UK economy over the quarter (2.8 per cent for NI against 2.2 per cent for the UK) and over the year (3.2 per cent for NI against 1.7 per cent for the UK) to Q1 2020. On a slightly longer timeframe, NI economic output decreased by 0.4 per cent over the last two years compared to growth of 0.5 per cent reported for the UK.
  • The level of economic activity in NI currently sits 7.2 per cent below the maximum value recorded in Q2 2007 whilst UK GDP is estimated to be 11.0 per cent higher than its pre-economic downturn peak.  The latest NICEI results continue to show that the UK has had a shorter downturn and a faster recovery than NI since the 2008 recession.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available at the NI Composite Economic Index page on the NISRA website.
  2. The NISRA Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI) is a quarterly measure of the performance of the Northern Ireland (NI) economy based on available official statistics.
  3. The NICEI combines existing published quarterly indices (ie Index of Services (IOS), Index of Production (IOP), Quarterly Construction Enquiry (QCE)), public sector employee jobs data from the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), and unpublished agricultural output data from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).  These indices are weighted using ONS Regional Accounts Gross Value Added (GVA) data to provide a proxy measure of total economic output in the NI economy on a quarterly basis.
  4. The NICEI output measures relate to the first quarter (January - March) of 2020. These estimates are based on surveys of businesses and estimates of change are subject to sampling error. Figures for a quarter may be revised if more complete information subsequently becomes available.
  5. The NICEI back series is calculated each quarter, typically the revisions to the NICEI are reasonably minor. The revisions this quarter were more noticeable, this was largely due to a revision in the Index of production deflators. Further information is available at the NI Composite Economic Index on the NISRA website
  6. 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.
  7. Further information and tables from each of the data sources are available on the NISRA website Economy section.
  8. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at
  9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800 hrs and 0800 hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110. 
  10. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible economist: David Leonard, Economic and Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),  Tel: 028 9052 9385.
  11. Follow NISRA on Twitter.

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