Bank of Ireland have today released their latest Quarterly Economic Outlook.
They predict that the steady rise in employment is set to continue in 2016 with growth of 2.5% projected this year, equating to c. 50,000 new jobs.
Their outlook shows the number of people employed is heading towards two million. Employment growth is expected to continue into 2017 with a rise of 2.2%. The unemployment rate stood at 8.6% in January, a seven year low and is expected to fall to below 7% by end-2017.
Bank of Ireland research indicates that 60% of SMEs see activity increasing over the next three months. Improving sentiment and a better trading environment is supporting business investment in machinery and equipment.
The construction industry experienced an uplift in residential and other building last year, with 12,666 house completions in 2015, an increase of 15% on 2014.
Exports are at a record high with growth in key trading partners and favourable sectoral conditions contributing to this. 2015 saw export growth in the region of 12.5% and exports are due to increase further in 2016 with growth forecast at 8%.
The bank has revised 2016 GDP outlook from 4.8% to 5%, meaning that Ireland will outperform its European counterparts yet again. GNP is projected to increase by 4.6% in the coming year.
Chief Economist at Bank of Ireland, Dr Loretta O’Sullivan said, "2016 is off to a strong start and we’re revising our GDP forecast up to 5%. There are positive signals of continued growth with the unemployment rate hitting a 7 year low in January and we foresee a continued rise in employment this year.
"The outlook for business is positive with an expected increase in activity and further investment. Ireland is continuing to perform well against European counterparts, demonstrating strong continued growth."