Page last updated at 06:41 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Recession 'will hit NI hardest'

bank notes

Northern Ireland will be hit harder in this recession than the rest of the UK economy, the Ulster Bank believes.

In its latest economic review, the bank predicts Northern Ireland unemployment could peak at 50,000 next year.

The bank's economist, Richard Ramsey, has said the NI economy is particularly exposed to the downturn in the housing and retail sectors.

"Since the middle of 2007, the local economy has experienced a rapid slowdown," he said.

Mr Ramsey said this had been at a much faster rate than the UK average.

"Indeed Northern Ireland has experienced the sharpest contraction in business activity of all the UK regions during the 12 months to September 2008.

"Construction has borne the brunt of the slowdown; however the local manufacturing sector recorded the sharpest falls in output and employment in the third quarter of this year.

"As our two biggest trading partners, the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, enter recession, local exporters will be impacted significantly and exports in 2009 will fall," he added.



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