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Hamilton welcomes continued growth of private sector

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Figures released today in the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index show that:

Over the last year the Northern Ireland economy was estimated to have grown by 0.7% from Quarter 1 2015 to Quarter 1 2016. The increase was driven by rises in the Services sector (a contribution of 1.2 percentage points (pps)) and the Construction sector (a contribution of 0.2 pps).

These increases were offset by decreases over the year in the Public sector jobs index (a contribution of -0.5 pps) and the Production sector (a contribution of -0.1 pps).

Northern Ireland economic activity increased by 0.4% from Quarter 4 2015 to Quarter 1 2016.

Commenting on the figures, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said: “While the statistics published today show a moderate overall increase in the Northern Ireland economy, it is nonetheless welcome that it is the private sector that is once again leading the way in growing our economy.

“Our recovery is characterised by strong employment growth. This was demonstrated by the recent Labour Market statistics showing the number claiming unemployment related benefits has fallen by over 7,000 people in the year to June 2016.

“The growth in output in the first quarter of this year was particularly encouraging with Northern Ireland matching UK GDP growth and also bucking the trend within the UK by posting double digit growth in exports during the same quarter.

“The Executive took the bold step of introducing the Voluntary Exit Scheme (VES) to help rebalance our economy. 2,990 people exited the civil service under the scheme in the last year. Even with that withdrawal, it is encouraging to see the growth of the private sector offset the impact of the VES.

“My number one aim as Minister is to transform Northern Ireland into a globally competitive economy. I want our economy to continue on the present path of constant improvement; growing in size and rebalancing from the public to the private sector.

“The private sector has seen annual growth of 1.6% over the year to March 2016, with exports up by 9% over the same period. It is a globally facing, innovative private sector that drives job creation and as much as we have made progress, we won’t reach our full potential unless we continue to reform.”

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