For some reason there are no GDP (gross domestic product) figures available for Northern Ireland as a constituent part of the United Kingdom, although its raw data must logically be taken account of in the UK's GDP figures. In an attempt to plug this gap the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment has devised an index which has been given the catchy title of the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index. This is apparently the closest approximation to a GDP figure for Northern Ireland that can be achieved using the statistical sources that are presently available.
The figures which have now been produced do not make good reading, not that one could have anticipated anything different. They confirm what most of us already knew, or suspected. The downturn came to us earlier than the rest of the United Kingdom and it has been a deeper and steeper downturn. In the UK as a whole economic output was at its zenith in the first quarter of 2008 and it is now 2.9% below its peak. Here economic activity peaked in the second quarter of 2007 and as of Q3 2012 (the most recent figures available) we are witnessing a fall of 11.4%. Whilst there has been a very modest increase in this new index over the last four quarters (0.3%) it would be a brave commentator who predicted any protracted or substantial growth.
Northern Ireland is the sick man of the United Kingdom's economy.