Evidence suggests that despite the recent global slowdown, the Northern Ireland economy has continued to expand over recent years.
Between March 1999 and September 2003, the number of employee jobs has increased by 46,180 (7.4 per cent.). While the vast majority of new employment is to be found in the service sector, manufacturing output and productivity have continued to rise over the period. Between Ql 1999 and Q3 2003 manufacturing output increased by 18.8 per cent., while manufacturing productivity increased by 40.9 per cent. Exports by Northern Ireland's manufacturing firms increased by 15.9 per cent. between 1998–99 and 2002–03, however, in recent years the level of manufacturing sales and exports has shown a small decrease.