Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index Quarter 2 2020

Date published: 08 October 2020

The Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI) Q2 2020 was published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA).

Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index Quarter 2 2020
Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index Quarter 2 2020

Key points:

NI Economic output decreased over the quarter and the year

  • The NICEI indicates that economic output decreased by 13.6 per cent over the quarter to June 2020. Meanwhile economic output in the year to June 2020 decreased by 17.8 per cent in real terms compared to the same period in the previous year.
  • The decrease in the NICEI over the latest quarter (13.6 per cent) was driven by decreased activity in the Services, Production and Construction sectors; which had negative contributions of 9.1 percentage points (pps), 2.4pps and 2.0pps respectively. This was partially offset by the Public sector (a positive contribution of 0.2pps).

The NICEI indicates that NI economic activity fell at a slower rate 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 19.8 per cent over the quarter and 21.5 per cent over the year to Q2 2020.

Decreases in the Private Sector over the quarter and year compared to an increase in the Public Sector over the quarter and over the year

  • Private Sector output decreased over the quarter (18.0 per cent) and over the year (23.3 per cent) to June 2020. The Public Sector jobs index increased by 0.6 per cent over the quarter and 1.4 per cent over the year.
  • For the Private Sector, average growth for the four quarters to Quarter 2 2020 compared to the previous four quarters decreased by 7.0 per cent. Whilst the Public Sector (employee jobs) index increased by 1.5 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 Q2 2020 was driven by the decreases in all the Private Sector components of the economy.
  • Whilst Economic activity had been increasing gradually in recent years following the prolonged downturn post 2007; in Q2 2020 the NICEI fell to an all-time series low.
  • The NICEI estimates that output in the NI economy declined at a slower rate than that experienced by the UK economy over the quarter (13.6 per cent for NI against 19.8 per cent for the UK) and over the year (17.8 per cent for NI against 21.5 per cent for the UK) to Q2 2020. However, on a slightly longer timeframe, NI economic output decreased by 5.1 per cent over the last two years compared to growth of 5.4 per cent reported for the UK.
  • The level of economic activity in NI currently sits 20.8 per cent below the maximum value recorded in Q2 2007 whilst UK GDP is estimated to be 11.5 per cent lower than its pre-economic downturn peak.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available 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 (i.e. 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 (April - June) 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 due to the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and subsequent periods of business closure. As a result, NISRA received a larger number of late returns for the NICEI component indices for Q1 than normal. This resulted in a larger number of revisions to the provisional Q1 data and hence larger than normal revisions to the Index of Services and Index of Production. Further information is available in the detailed statistical bulletin is available 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 is available at NISRA Economy.
  8. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office at:
  9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs 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 & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),  Tel: 028 9052 9385. 
  11. Follow NISRA on Twitter

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