Strong growth in business activity continued last month as the Province enjoyed the third successive increase in commercial activity.
September data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI report today indicates that strong growth of activity was maintained as new business continued to increase.
As a result of rising workloads, firms took on extra staff for the third month running. The rate of input cost inflation accelerated, but improving demand meant that companies responded by raising their output prices at the fastest pace in five years.
Commenting on the latest survey findings, Richard Ramsey, chief economist Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, said companies appeared to be experiencing something of an Indian summer as the pace of business activity accelerated for the third month in a row.
“The retail, construction and manufacturing sectors all posted faster rates of growth in activity, which helped push the overall business activity index to its highest level in more than six years,” he said.
“The rate at which new business is coming in is also still growing, however not as strongly as it was, due to an easing of new orders in the services sector.”
In terms of employment, a significant slowdown in the rate of job creation within the services and manufacturing industries was largely offset by a pick-up in employment growth within construction and retail.
It was the first month in the series history that all four sectors simultaneously recorded employment growth.
“According to the official quarterly output and employment surveys, Northern Ireland’s construction industry was the first sector to enter recession and remains the last to exit. However, the PMI survey, which has been a reliable indicator of the local construction industry’s performance to date, suggests that the sector has finally boarded the recovery train. Indeed, the September survey represents the best set of monthly figures within the quarter, with a marked acceleration in construction activity and a pick-up in new orders and employment levels. Furthermore, construction firms were able to raise prices for the first time in the series history.
“Improving conditions within the construction sectors in the UK and Republic of Ireland offer further optimism for local construction and manufacturing firms operating in, or supplying to these markets.”