Ulster Bank PMI report for May 2024

Sharpest rise in new orders since February 2022

Key findings

  • Steep and accelerated rise in new orders 
  • Faster increases in output and employment
  • Northern Ireland the fastest growing UK area in May 


The Northern Ireland private sector continued to record strong growth midway through the second quarter, with output, new orders and employment all increasing at sharper rates in May. Meanwhile, higher wages pushed up input costs, feeding through to a marked rise in selling prices. The headline seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index rose to 56.4 in May, up from 54.5 in April and signalling a marked expansion in output in Northern Ireland's private sector. Activity has now risen in each of the past six months. Moreover, the increase in output in Northern Ireland was the strongest of the UK regions and nations covered by the report. Growth was recorded across all four broad sectors, led by manufacturing. Meanwhile, construction output increased at the fastest pace in almost four years. A steep rise in new orders was also recorded in May, with the rate of expansion quickening to the fastest since February 2022. Companies responded to higher new orders by taking on extra staff at a solid pace, with the rate of job creation at a ten-month high. Some firms also raised employment to prepare for future expansion. Business sentiment remained strongly positive amid expectations that current new order growth will be sustained. Confidence eased to a three-month low, but was still well above the series average. Input costs continued to increase sharply, often as a result of rising wages. As a result, companies increased their own selling prices at a marked pace that was sharper than seen in April.


Please see the regional report in full:


Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI (PDF, 778KB)

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