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Northern Economy Finance Industry and Trade Ireland is currently enjoying a period of economic growth with output and employment rising and unemployment falling Gross Domestic Product GDP is defined as the sum of all incomes earned from productive activity GDP per head is taken to be a good indication of a regions relative prosperity and since 1989 GDP per head in Northern Ireland increased almost by 58 This compares with a 499 increase in the UK as a whole Having said this however GDP per head in Northern Ireland still remains lower than the rest of the UK Personal disposable income in Northern Ireland has been consistently lower than the rest of the UK and average gross weekly earnings are also lower than those in other parts of the UK In 1997 average gross weekly earnings in Northern Ireland were 31970 compared to 37220 in England Unemployment in Northern Ireland is currently at its lowest level in 18 years It has fallen from 168 in 1986 to 82 in 1997 Manufacturing output in Northern Ireland has increased significantly over the past 5 years and at a faster rate of growth than that of the UK as a whole Between 1997 - 1998 Northern Ireland output increased by 23 in comparison to an increase of 02 for the UK as a whole Industrial production in Northern Ireland increased in the 5 years between 1991-1996 by nearly 17 whilst the rest of the UK increased by only 117 House prices in Northern Ireland are rising at a significantly faster rate than the general UK rate of inflation Northern Ireland house prices in the 3rd quarter of 1998 were 556 higher than prices in the same quarter of 1993 Over the past 2 years leading supermarket chains in Britain have made major investments in Northern Ireland and created thousands of new jobs In 1997-1998 the highest proportion of public expenditure in Northern Ireland 3212 was spent on Social
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