World of Work in Northern Ireland

The Big Picture

Northern Ireland: the economy evolves 1945 - 2010

Northern Ireland: the economy evolves

Post War Years (1945 - 1955)

The impact of the war on the Northern Ireland economy and labour market was significant. 

During the 1939- 1945 conflict people had jobs that related to the needs of a wartime economy and consequently the number of people at work increased, greatly reducing the pre-war level of unemployment.

Even in the aftermath of 1945, fears of a sharp downturn in the economy proved misplaced. 

Northern Ireland: the economy evolves

The Dawn of Globalisation (1955 – 1969)

From the early 1950’s into the 1960’s, the local economy went through major changes: losing jobs in traditional industries and gaining jobs through new investments.

It was during this period that farming incomes were supported by the UK system of ‘deficiency payments’ which gave Northern Ireland farmers an advantage over farmers from the Republic of Ireland. 

Northern Ireland: the economy evolves
Northern Ireland: the economy evolves
Northern Ireland: the economy evolves

Violence, emigration, the growth of public sector (1970 – 1994)

The Northern Ireland economy, after about 1970, was increasingly affected by the consequences of the impact of political instability and related violence, most siginificantly when the regional Government was suspended and political authority transferred to Westminster.

Northern Ireland: the economy evolves

Political stability, rise of IT and the retail giants (1990’s into 2009)

During this period there has been a restoration, slowly at first, of a more normal economy with less disruption linked to instability in political activity and a higher degree of business confidence.

Key features have included a reversal of the usual pattern of net emigration. 

Northern Ireland, for the first time in a century, attracted an annual immigration flow of new residents, many from other EU countries,  partly attracted by unfilled employment opportunities.

Northern Ireland: the economy evolves
Northern Ireland: the economy evolves
Northern Ireland: the economy evolves

Looking Ahead - Postscript in 2009

During 2008-9 and probably into 2010, the economic expansion of earlier in the decade has been reversed.  Unemployment is increasing, real incomes are lower and a greater degree of uncertainty is now in evidence.  House prices have fallen sharply.

Whilst there is uncertainty about the depth of the recession in 2009 and the speed of the upturn in 2010 and beyond, there is less uncertainty about the changes that are likely in the Northern Ireland economy.

Northern Ireland: the economy evolves
  • Interactive Timeline

    economy evolves

    The Northern Ireland economy went through many changes since the end of WWII, with the impact of 'The Troubles' being keenly felt.

  • Employment Sectors

    The Key SectorsUnderstanding Northern Ireland's key business sectors can help you gain an important insight into the strength of our local economy.

  • BBC Resources

    BBC ResourcesLearn more about by accessing some of the many resources available on the BBC and external sites.

  • Interactive Quiz

    Interactive QuizHow much have you learned about the local economy, the key business sectors and the impact of globalisation?

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