Northern Ireland’s services sector continues to shine as new figures show it grew for the fifteenth consecutive period in the second quarter (Q2) of 2018.
New data from the NI statistics agency NISRA for the period from April to June shows the sector increased in real terms by 1.3% with output at its highest point since Q2 2008.
Growth over the year at 3.4% was above UK growth of 1.5% over the equivalent period in 2017.
Growth was driven chiefly by the wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; accommodation and food service sector, 0.3% over the quarter and 2.7% over the year, in the transport, storage, information and communication sector, 5.7% over the quarter and 11.9% over the year.
That disguised a 1.2% decline in the business services and finance sector over the quarter though it rose by 1.1% over the year.
“The Transport, Storage, Information & Communication sector was the star performer amongst private sector services,” said Ulster Bank chief Northern Ireland eonomist at Ulster Bank Richard Ramsey.
Activity within the sector expanded by 5.7% quarter on quarter and 11.9% year on year against UK rises of 1.4% and 11.9% respectively.
“These represent the fastest rates of growth that the sector has experienced and output has never been higher,” he added.
The sector encompasses a wide range of activities and has benefited from amongst other things, the boom in tourism boom, a surge in manufacturing exports and film production or the ‘Game of Thrones effect’.
In production, the NISRA statistics showed some quarterly sub sector falls, but rises in the indices for Manufacture of food, beverages and tobacco products (5.9%) and the manufacture of basic metals and fabricated metal products (7.3%).
“Northern Ireland notched up its third successive of quarter of growth in industrial production in Q2 2018,” Mr Ramsey said, adding that the former category had been impacted by a fall triggered by the closure of the JTI tobacco plant in Ballymena.
“Both of these surveys posted healthy rates of growth rates in Q2 2018.
“Furthermore, there were upward revisions to the first quarter figures. The upshot of this is the Northern Ireland economy has had a strong start to the year and indeed stronger than previously thought.