Conor Lambe, the Chief Economist at Danske Bank, giving his view recently on the future economy said “Looking forward, consumer spending is projected to pick up throughout the year, boosted by rising wages and a moderation of inflationary pressures. But Brexit-related uncertainty is likely to continue to drag on business investment and the slower pace of global economic growth is expected to weigh on exports. We are forecasting that the Northern Ireland economy will grow by 1.0% in 2019 and 1.3% in 2020”.
So what does that mean for the people of Dungannon? For a start, its good news for our shopkeepers if we are spending more because we have more in our pockets. A buoyant local economy means we are likely to have a greater disposable income and therefore spend more in the shops.
The uncertainty arises when it comes to predictions post Brexit. South Tyrone is fortunate that it as a lot of businesses that export out of the country, as the weak sterling means their products can be more competitively priced. Overall though, our local engineering businesses are expecting a good year ahead. However, when it comes to buying in materials and parts from outside the UK it can be more expensive. Anyone that has been on holidays recently and bought Euros will know that they got less for their money than last year. Bad news for us, but good news for any tourists coming to spend money in Dungannon as their money will stretch a lot further.
A report, which acts as a barometer for the local jobs market indicates that although job hiring is slowing slightly, the IT sector is showing no sign of a slump. This could be a problem for Dungannon firms recruiting new employees in the future, as Belfast remains a key location for global companies to invest and have access to a talented workforce. There is already a lack of skilled workers locally and the idea of our school leavers being attracted away from the south Tyrone area towards IT opportunities elsewhere, is not a good one in the medium term.
What will Brexit mean for house prices? there’s no getting away from the fact that the uncertainty around when the UK will leave the EU, and the terms under which it may happen, is causing property market jitters. House prices did stagnate for a while following the referendum in June 2016. But, with Brexit looming ever closer, house prices fell much more sharply than usual after last summer. David Blake, Which? mortgage expert, says: ‘The political situation may be in turmoil but it’s important that buyers and homeowners don’t panic or make any rash decisions.
So in conclusion, what is the economic prediction for Dungannon? Your guess is as good as mine. The only thing that is certain is that there will be uncertainty ahead...