The State of Britain

Mid and East Antrim the province’s only area to record productivity above the UK average, productivity growth in the UK top ten and NI retains the unemployment crown

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Like most ‘regions’ of the UK, output per hour in NI is below the UK average. Productivity per hour in the province was 16% below the UK average which ranked NI tenth nationally for 2018. One reason for this is the high levels of hours worked and high productivity in London and South East which pulls up the UK average so much that all other regions fall below it.

The ONS has now released data for a longer period and at a subregional level. This gives further insight into NI’s performance. At the district level Northern Ireland data is only available for GVA per filled job, whereas the data for other parts of the UK also includes GVA per hour worked so although similar the stats are not exactly comparable.

Perhaps the most useful data is the 2018 results for the 44 enterprise regions in the UK which comprise the 38 English local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and six enterprise regions in Scotland, Wales and the border regions.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP had the best productivity (in terms of hours and jobs) in 2018 at 35% above the UK average whereas the Black Country LEP at 24% below was the worst. At -16% Invest NI would be ranked around 33rd.

In terms of productivity growth between 2010 and 2018 the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP was top with growth of 16%. Twelve economic regions recorded productivity levels lower in 2018 than 2010. The worst performer was the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP which saw productivity drop by 11%. At c5% growth Invest NI would likely be ranked in the UK top 10.

With the exception of Mid and East Antrim (+18%) all of the province’s economic regions recorded productivity below the UK average. Even Belfast was 0.5% below the UK average. Derry City and Strabane had the lowest productivity, 26% below the UK average.

The growth in hours worked between 2010 and 2018 in Belfast was 17%, beating Lisburn and Castlereagh which recorded 11%, Derry City/Strabane and Antrim/Newtownabbey were both on 9%. In UK terms this level of growth was in the top half of the country’s subregions. Mid and East Antrim saw productivity decline by 10%.

If the increase in economic output is also factored in then at the ‘sub regional’ level NI’s performance would rank in the UK top ten (mirroring Invest NI). Outer London – West and North West was best in the UK with growth of 12% with Inner London – East the worst in the UK at -10%. NI growth was 5%,

More data from the ONS showed unemployment in the country was 1,000 higher at 22,000 between November and January; the increase of 0.1% took the overall rate to 2.4%, the lowest in the UK. The NE had the highest rate at 6.2% with the UK rate at 3.9%.

The South East had the highest employment rate at 80% which compared with 72.3% in NI where 0.9m are employed; the UK rate was 76.5%.

NI’s  average property price increased by 0.2% to £140,190 in Q4 2019, which took the annual increase to 2.5%. In comparison, UK prices decreased by 1.1% to £231,185 during January, an annual growth rate of 1.3%.