‘Positive signs’ of economic upturn

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK

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There are positive signs of an upturn in the local economy, Chief Minister Allan Bell believes.

While the island escaped the worst of the global recession, there has been something of a two-speed economy, with outward facing international businesses faring well but some local sectors – particularly construction, retail and hospitality – having experienced a significant downturn.

But now there are signs of improvement across all sectors.

A quarterly survey of more than 100 island businesses taking part in Chamber of Commerce’s first Business Barometer found that two-thirds of companies are optimistic about the next 12 months, with less than one in 10 pessimistic.

In another welcome signs of an upturn, unemployment fell last month to the lowest level in two years, down 75 in April to a total of 986, There has also been a big fall in the rate of inflation which dropped from 2.6 per cent to 1.9 per cent in April.

Mr Bell said: ‘There does seem to be some positive signs in the local economy in construction, retail and hospitality. We need a longer period to get a better idea of progress and we should see later in the summer whether the upturn in continuing.’

Latest statistics shows that house prices in the island slumped by 9 per cent last year. Mr Bell said this was not necessarily a bad thing. He said: ‘In some respects it is to be welcomed because there have been unrealistic expectations. Houses have been overpriced. This contraction is overdue.’

* Chambers launches Business Barometer - p41.

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