By the time most people have read this post, it will have been announced that unemployment in the UK has passed the two million mark for the first time in 12 years.
Gordon Brown will, of course, pass this off as a global recession. What will mark our country out from others will be the rate at which we can recover and grow our economy when the recession ends.
We have already had some indication about that. According to an IMF forecast reported in The Times, Britain’s economy is set to shrink by a further 0.2% during 2010 whilst all other leading economies in the World are expected to enjoy very small growth.
In that case, unemployment will probably rise to 3.5 million in the UK.
The Northern Ireland economy may be in a different situation to the rest of the UK. In Northern Ireland, the public sector represents 77% of GDP. Having a top-heavy public sector will mean that in the short and medium term, the recession will not be as crippling for the Northern Ireland economy as it will be in England. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is already benefiting from a low pound against the euro, particularly in the retail sector as shoppers from the Irish Republic go North to buy their goods.
The Conservatives have already promised that Northern Ireland will be granted special tax exemption status as part of a drive to re-balance its economy. I sense that in the years to come, Northern Ireland could become a beacon of investment opportunity for businesses. Let us hope so. At the very least, it seems set to become an oasis of growth within a devastated UK economy.
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