Posts in the "Northern Ireland " category

Poverty, Wages and Violence

Posted on March 29, 2014 by Tom Healy

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

The publication – coincidentally – of two reports in Northern Ireland in the last week has drawn attention to the importance of wages in the Northern economy. While the reports received very extensive media coverage in the Northern media, there was very little in the South. This is regrettable as poverty, wages and community tensions constitute a triad with implications for long-term economic and social stability on the islands of Ireland and Britain. One report, entitled ‘Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland’, was published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and drew attention to the extent of low income and the growth in poverty in Northern Ireland over the last 8 years. The other report, the NERI Quarterly Economic Observer (Spring 2014), focussed on the extent of low pay in the North. Both reports draw attention to the problem of low pay in the UK and Northern Ireland in particular. As the JRF report states: ‘Wages and hours matter, as does the distribution of work across households.’

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsNorthern Ireland Wages

1 in 4 Northern Ireland workers do not earn enough for a decent standard of living

Posted on March 24, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

The Nevin Economic Research Institutel published its latest Quarterly Economic Observer today Tuesday 25th March. In it, we examine the extent of low pay across Northern Ireland:

  • 25% of workers earn less than the 'Living Wage' (169,000).
  • 17% are officially classified as low paid (115,000) and 9% (61,000) earn only the National Minimum Wage or less.
  • Young people, women and those in part-time work are most at risk
  • Upper Bann, North Antrim, East L'Derry and Newry & Armagh are hotspots for low pay.
  • Low Pay is widespread in sectors such as Accommodation, Food, Retail, Residential and Social Care.

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Permanent link | Categories: InequalityJobsLiving wageNorthern Ireland Wages

A Budget for the few

Posted on March 19, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

Budget 2014 announced some interesting measures for pensioners and savers but overall the economic strategy remains as it was. Government fiscal policy remains committed to reductions in government expenditure extending to the end of the decade despite serious concerns over the sustainability of the current 'recovery'.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingInequalityInvestmentMacroeconomicsNorthern Ireland TaxationWages

Youth Unemployment: A problem that is not going away

Posted on February 26, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

Youth Unemployment is an issue that is affecting nearly every developed country across the western world. While some labour market and output indicators may show some signs of recovery, youth unemployment is a reminder that the greatest recession to hit the developed world since the great depression has left some wounds that won't heal. While many countries experienced high levels of youth unemployment before the recession owing to structural problems, the current rates reflect a bad situation made worse.

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Permanent link | Categories: JobsNorthern Ireland

Have the US and the UK something to teach Europe?

Posted on February 21, 2014 by Tom Healy

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

It’s a funny old world as a former British Prime Minister once said. The United States and the United Kingdom have distinguished themselves in the last quarter century as leaders in wage in equality, a declining share of wages in total income and enhanced ‘labour market flexibility’.  Larry Summers has recently referred to the US economy as moving towards a Downton Abbey with a widening gap between rich and poor. Yet, the UK and the USA responded, each in their own way, differently to the Great Recession of 2008-2009. A sustained bout of ‘quantitative easing’ (money-printing), unprecedented low interest rates and a relatively moderate approach to fiscal consolidation have served to lessen some of the worst effects of the recession not only in these countries but in other parts of the world where US action is concerned. It has also helped explain why the US and UK economies have been growing more rapidly in recent quarters compared to most Eurozone economies.

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland

Enterprise: The mising link

Posted on February 01, 2014

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

Northern Ireland is again featuring in international media and mostly for the wrong reasons. Underlying recent community tensions and the lack of political agreement have been the enduring problems of social exclusion, youth unemployment and households stuck in poverty. The post-1998 peace dividend allied to an economic boom in the years leading up to 2008 spelled a very welcome development in terms of jobs, living standards (at least for some) and inward investment. Yet, key areas of the economy remained under-developed and long-term unemployment and poverty blighted many communities during that period.  The sharp contraction in output and employment in 2008-09 followed by a period of stagnation and economic uncertainty has left a legacy in terms of under-employment and very low wages especially in key sectors and occupations. 

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Permanent link | Categories: Northern Ireland

50p tax rate would affect less than 2000 earners in Northern Ireland

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Paul Mac Flynn

Much has been made of the announcement yesterday by the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls MP that a Labour government would reintroduce a 50% tax on incomes over £150,000. The motivation of this policy is to reduce the deficit, and taxing higher incomes is clearly far preferable than withdrawing even more state benefits from some of the most vulnerable in our society.


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Permanent link | Categories: InequalityNorthern Ireland Taxation

‘a serious challenge that businesses and the Government must address’

Posted on January 09, 2014 by Tom Healy

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

In Northern Ireland – as in the rest of the United Kingdom – real wages have been falling since 2008. Using data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) the UK-based GMB trade union has estimated that average earnings in Northern Ireland , when adjusted for inflation, have fallen by 12% between April 2008 and November 2013.  This is turning out to be the longest real wage squeeze in living memory. Among those at paid work, one in four workers in Northern Ireland are at risk of poverty because they are on low pay.  According to the Living Wage Research for KPMG published, last year, there were an estimated 197,000 employees below the calculated living wage level in Northern Ireland. This corresponds to 26% of all employees and is the highest of any UK region. 

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Permanent link | Categories: InequalityLabour costsLiving wageNorthern Ireland

Growth in Northern Ireland not what it seems

Posted on December 12, 2013 by Paul Mac Flynn

The latest figures for Gross Value Added in Northern Ireland were released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics. Gross Value Added is the closest measure to Gross Domestic Product we have for Northern Ireland, it is equal to Gross Domestic Product plus subsidies and minus indirect taxes. However it is derived from the calculation of National Accounts for the United Kingdom and as such many of the components represent Northern Ireland shares of overall UK activity. None the less it is a key economic indicator used by policy makers and others in determining the health of the Northern Ireland economy. The statistical release from the ONS showed Northern Ireland GVA increasing by 1.2% in 2012. However, this is not the full story.



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Permanent link | Categories: MacroeconomicsNorthern Ireland

UK Autumn Statement fails to tackle underlying problems

Posted on December 05, 2013 by Paul Mac Flynn

In the Autumn Statement today the Office for Budget Responsibility has upgraded forecasts for growth in the UK economy from 0.6% to 1.4% for 2013. Furthermore they have upgraded forecasts for 2014 and 2015 to 2.4% and 2.2% respectively. While much attention has focused on the speed of the UK recovery, the composition of any such recovery matters just as much. The first point to make is that while GDP growth appears to be growing again, it follows a long period of stagnation from mid-2010 to mid-2013. The absence of growth for nearly 3 years means that the level of UK GDP is still some 2.5% below its pre-crisis peak. Fiscal austerity smothered the beginnings of a recovery in 2010, and the UK economy is only now experiencing what by historical standards is modest GDP growth.

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Permanent link | Categories: Government SpendingJobsMacroeconomicsNorthern Ireland Taxation

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