Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index Quarter 3 2020

Date published: 14 January 2021

The Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI) Q3 2020 was published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency

Statistics Graph

Key points:

NI Economic output increased over the quarter and decreased over the year:

  • The NICEI indicates that economic output increased by 15.5% over the quarter to September 2020.  Meanwhile economic output in the year to September 2020 decreased by 2.9% in real terms compared to the same period in the previous year.
  • The increase in the NICEI over the latest quarter (15.5%) was driven by increased activity in the Services, Production and Construction sectors; which had positive contributions of 10.8 percentage points (pps), 2.8pps and 2.0pps respectively.  This was partially offset by the Public sector (a negative contribution of 0.1pps).

The NICEI indicates that NI economic activity grew at a slower rate than UK GDP over the quarter but declined at a slower rate over the year:

  • Although the measures are not produced on a fully equivalent basis, comparisons with the UK show that UK GDP increased at a slightly higher rate over the quarter (16.0 %) but declined at a higher rate over the year (8.6%) to Q3 2020.

The Private sector grew over the quarter and declined over the year whereas the Public sector decreased over the quarter and increased over the year:

  • Private sector output as measured by the NICEI increased over the quarter (21.4%) but decreased over the year (3.8%). Meanwhile, the NICEI Public Sector index decreased over the quarter (0.4%) but increased over the year (0.5%).
  • For the Private sector, average growth for the four quarters to Quarter 3 2020 compared to the previous four quarters decreased by 7.7%. Whilst the Public sector (employee jobs) index increased by 1.2% over the same period.


  • The NISRA NICEI indicates that the increase in economic growth over the quarter was driven by increases in the private sub-sectors, which coincides with the easing of certain lockdown restrictions.  Meanwhile the reduction in output over the year and rolling annual average to Q3 2020 was driven by decreases in all the private sub-sector components of the economy over the year.
  • Whilst Economic activity had been increasing gradually in recent years following the prolonged downturn post 2007; Q3 2020 represents the highest quarter on quarter growth in the series,  following the lowest quarter on quarter growth in the previous Quarter (to the series low in Q2 2020).
  • The NICEI estimates that output in the NI economy increased at a slightly slower rate than that experienced by the UK economy over the quarter (15.5% for NI against 16.0% for the UK).  That said NI economic output decreased at a slower rate than the UK both over the year (2.9% for NI against 8.6% for the UK) to Q3 2020 and also decreased at a slower rate on a rolling annual average comparing the last four quarters to the previous four quarters (5.7% for NI against 7.6% reported for the UK).
  • The level of economic activity in NI currently sits 8.3% below the maximum value recorded in Q2 2007 whilst UK GDP is estimated to be 3.7% above its pre-economic downturn peak.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available by visiting 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 third quarter (July - September) 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, further information is available in the detailed statistical bulletin.
  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
  8. For media enquiries please contact the Department for the Economy 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 @NISRA

Share this page

Latest news

Back to top