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Posts in the "Northern Ireland " category

Things you always wanted to know about Northern Ireland public finances (Part 2)

Posted on November 28, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI - Tom Healy, Director NERI
Tom Healy, Director NERI

In a previous Blog ‘Things you always wanted to know about public finances in Northern Ireland but were afraid to ask’ (Part 1) I outlined the main components of public spending and receipts. The arrangements for funding and how the UK Government allocates funds are complex.  Three factors have recently pushed the issue of public funding in Northern Ireland to the fore:

  1. Continuing pressure on public spending at UK level with further austerity signalled by all main political parties in the next Parliament (following May 2015).
  2. Controversy over UK Welfare Reform (see previous blog here)
  3. On-going debate about devolution including powers to vary taxes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and even large urban areas in the UK (earlier last week the Smith Commission reported on proposals for further Scottish independence).

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingNorthern Ireland Taxation

NERI Seminar: Devolution in the United Kingdom Post Scottish Referendum

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Daragh McCarthy

NERI seminar: prospects post Scottish referendum on independence - NERI seminar: prospects post Scottish referendum on independence
NERI seminar: prospects post Scottish referendum on independence

In the aftermath of the Scottish Independence referendum, a broader discussion has begun about the future of economic governance in the United Kingdom. If further welfare and tax raising are to be devolved to Holyrood, what could this mean for the administrations in Belfast and Cardiff? What could this mean for the proposed devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland? How would further devolution to city regions in England affect overall UK fiscal policy?

Yesterday's NERI seminar examined some of these issues with Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary at the Scottish Trades Union Congress, providing an overview of the central issues in the recent Scottish referendum on independence and looking at proposals for further devolution in Scotland.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland

Things you always wanted to know about public finances in Northern Ireland but were afraid to ask (Part 1)

Posted on November 15, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI - Tom Healy, Director NERI
Tom Healy, Director NERI

Fiscal austerity has dominated public discourse across Europe for more than half a decade. The UK and Northern Ireland has been no exception. Recent weeks have seen growing controversy and political tension as public spending cuts imposed by the UK government continue to impact on the local provision of public services and incomes.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingInvestmentNorthern Ireland Taxation

Researching the macro-economic impact of the Living Wage

Posted on September 12, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI - Tom Healy, Director NERI
Tom Healy, Director NERI

The idea of a ‘living wage’ is gathering momentum in many parts of the world. It is conceived and measured as a wage rate which is adequate to meet the needs of workers and their families in a given society at a given time. But affordability of life for workers is one thing – what about affordability for companies and employers? Would the application of a ‘living wage’ across the economy lead to businesses closing or jobs being lost or young people failing to find employment?  The answer depends on what level of increase is required to reach a ‘living wage’ (and how the latter is measured) as well as how different impacts play out in the economy with gains and losses added up. 

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Permanent link | Categories: Living wageNorthern Ireland Wages

Wages stagnation in Northern Ireland a brake on recovery

Posted on August 22, 2014 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI - Tom Healy, Director NERI
Tom Healy, Director NERI

The speed of economic recovery in the UK has taken many by surprise. First the good news. Employment is up. Retail sales are up and business investment is expanding. This is good news for exporters in the Republic of Ireland especially those in sectors such as agri-food where, traditionally, the UK market has been an important destination. It is also good news for Northern Ireland where, even if timely data are lacking, it appears that output and employment are on the rise. See Section 2.3 of the latest NERI Quarterly Economic Observer . It also appears that many households are drawing on savings to spend a bit more in shops and local economies.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland Wages

Employment up, but wages ominous

Posted on August 13, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

UK Labour Market data released this morning show that the trend of rising employment and falling real wages is set to continue. At a UK-wide level, the decreases in unemployment are quite impressive, particularly for youth unemployment but figures for earnings at GB level paint a more sober picture. Regular pay in Great Britain was only up 0.6% from this time last year and with inflation running at about 2% this indicates a significant drop in real wages. We do not have reliable monthly earnings figures for Northern Ireland, only the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings can report the extent of wage growth here. Interestingly there are indications that wages growth is stronger for those who have been in consistent employment for the last number of years. A lot of the weakness in wage growth may be due to compositional changes in the workforce i.e. people who have come back to work are in lower paying jobs than before. This has interesting implications for the recovery in the labour market in Northern Ireland as highlighted in a recent NERI working paper here.

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsNorthern Ireland Wages

Hours and Earnings in the Northern Ireland Labour Market

Posted on July 29, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

As noted in this blog last week, there has been a significant recovery in the labour market for both Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. However it was also noted that the pace of recovery in the labour market has not so far been reflected in economic growth. While UK economic growth is now reaching 3% per year, the economy has only just returned to its pre-crisis peak and it is nearly the last of the G7 economies to do so (Italy still lags behind). Furthermore most of the recent growth has been fueled by population increases as GDP per capita is still almost 5% below peak. In Northern Ireland the situation is arguably worse, as the quarterly Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index showed a contraction in the first quarter of 2014.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland Wages

Productivity a danger for UK and NI

Posted on July 16, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

There were conflicting messages in the statistics released today on the Northern Ireland economy and labour market. On the labour market side, both measures of unemployment have fallen significantly for the three months from March to May of this year. The claimant count (literally a count of those receiving unemployment benefits) shows a consistent decrease over the last 18 months. However a claimant count is an imperfect measure of unemployment as it only includes those entitled to claim benefits and is unresponsive to changes in those entitlements. More importantly the Labour Force Survey measure of unemployment decreased as well.

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsNorthern Ireland Wages

Three charts to bear in mind

Posted on April 29, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

Today's UK GDP figures showed continuing growth of 0.8% in the first quarter of 2014. Growth was mainly due to the UK's large service sector but there was also welcome if not belated growth in manufacturing. Year on year growth is now calculated to be averaging at about 3%, well above most other developed economies. While growth is welcome, if the experience of the last number of years has taught us anything it is that we should question good news as much as we do bad news.
There are several worrying trends within the UK economy at the moment. Firstly there has been no recovery in business investment, a key driver of sustainable growth. Despite many commentators citing balanced growth, as the chart below shows business investment shows no sign of driving the recovery.

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Permanent link | Categories: MacroeconomicsNorthern Ireland

Mixed signals from the NI Labour Market

Posted on April 16, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

As with buses, in Northern Ireland you wait and wait for economic statistics and then two come at once. Today the figures for the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index were released. The NICEI is the latest attempt by statisticians to come up with a figure for economic growth in Northern Ireland. Today we learnt that in the final quarter of 2013 growth was +0.6%, marginally below the +0.7% recorded for the UK for the same period. The main increase came from the services sector, while the main decrease came from construction. There is nothing particularly surprising in these figures, it more or less confirms trends most of us are aware of. The main point to take from these figures is that while UK GDP is now 1.5% below where is it was before the recession, Northern Ireland is still 11.2% below its peak. All growth is welcome, but Northern Ireland has some way to go and we would want to pick up the pace.

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsNorthern Ireland

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