THE pace at which business activity in the province is improving accelerated during August the release of data for the month today reveals.
The figures from the Northern Ireland PMI report signal a further growth of activity during August, and indicates that the rate of expansion rose to a six-year high.
Produced for Ulster Bank by Markit, the report shows new business continued to increase, leading to a rise in backlogs of work and a further improvement in employment
The rate of input cost inflation picked up, while some companies were able to raise their output prices in response.
“Economic indicators signalling a recovery in the Northern Ireland economy are coming in thick and fast,” said Richard Ramsey, chief economist Northern Ireland, at the Ulster Bank.
“According to the latest PMI survey, the private sector’s impressive performance in July has been surpassed by an even better August.
“It is a refreshing change to be describing business output growth at a 6-year high as opposed to multi-year lows.”
Mr Ramsey said the recovery remained broad based across all sectors of the economy although the construction sector posted a fall in new orders and employment last month.
“However, it is particularly encouraging to note that the local service industry, the economy’s largest sector and employer, posted a marked acceleration in output, new orders and employment growth last month,” hje added.
“Indeed, Northern Ireland’s service sector firms reported the fastest rates of growth in all three of these indicators since the fourth quarter of 2007.”
The significant rise in service sector employment in August meant that Northern Ireland firms reported their first back-to-back monthly rise in staffing levels since early-2008.
“As expected, the retail sector had a stellar performance in August and reported its busiest month since January 2007.
That was aided by the unusually good weather and significant one-off events including the World Police & Fire Games in Belfast and the All-Ireland Fleadh in Derry / Londonderry.
“Looking ahead, the Northern Ireland economy will remain particularly sensitive to the strength of the economic recoveries in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
“Put simply, the stronger the recoveries in these two economies the more secure the economic recovery will be in Northern Ireland. The local economy has undoubtedly enjoyed a good summer; the challenge is to follow this up with a good autumn, winter and spring. This will be no easy task as there remains no shortage of economic headwinds.”