The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its latest data about Northern Ireland sectoral and regional productivity on 6 April.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its latest data about Northern Ireland sectoral and regional productivity on 6 April. Four key points can be identified:
Northern Ireland’s continuing relatively low productivity matters as a key constraint which limits gains in regional competitiveness and prosperity and household living standards”.
Here are some of the key results in more detail:
Graph 1: NI comparative GVA per hour worked in the total economy, 1997-2016 (NI/UK, NI=100)
Source: ONS 6 April 2018, Industry by Region Estimates of Labour Productivity: April 2018.
For the economy in total, Northern Ireland’s comparative productivity level in 2016 (84%) was very similar to that twenty years before in 1997 (85%). Whilst there was some volatility in the comparative performance, in each year throughout 1997-2016 there was substantial shortfall in comparative productivity.
Graph 2: NI comparative GVA per hour worked in manufacturing, 1997-2016 (NI/UK, NI=100)
Throughout most of the last two decades a productivity gap has persisted in the key manufacturing sector. Albeit with some volatility as to the size of that shortfall. Northern Ireland’s output per hour worked varied between a high of 99% of the UK level in 2015 and a low of 83% in 2007. During most of the two decade period Northern Ireland’s comparative productivity was between 5% and 15% lower than the UK level.
Graph 3: NI comparative GVA per hour worked by sector, 2016 (NI/UK, NI=100)
Almost all individual sectors within Northern Ireland had a lower productivity level than their UK counterpart- this was true in 13 out of the 16 sectors compared. Two exceptions in 2016 were education and public administration- part of the explanation for this was a relatively higher level of average earnings in those sectors compared to the UK counterpart [Note 1]. The three sectors where Northern Ireland had the lowest comparative productivity level were the combination of agriculture & energy & water & mining and quarrying (38%), financial services (69%) and administration and support (72%).
Graph 4: NI comparative GVA per hour whole economy international terms, 2016 (NI= 100)
Productivity in each of the G7 economies exceeded Northern Ireland. In the US, France and Germany in an average hour worked 50-60% more output was produced than in Northern Ireland.
That would imply that the average US/French/German worker working Monday-Wednesday could produce as much as his/her Northern Ireland counterpart working Monday-Friday.