By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — In what may have been the peak of the Celtic Tiger boom, the economy grew by an extraordinary 13.4 percent in GNP terms in the three months to last June compared to the same period the year, new figures show.
In addition, unemployment remained at 3.6 percent in January for the second month running, according to the Central Statistics Office.
Economic analysts expect growth to moderate this year with the slowdown in the U.S. hitting Ireland harder than other EU states.
New figures given in the Dail by the taoiseach on ownership of the foreign industries with manufacturing plants in Ireland underlined the country’s heavy reliance on the U.S. economy.
American companies own 270 of the 653 industries. Germans own 95, UK companies 94, other EU countries 113, and the remaining 81 belong to companies in non-EU countries.
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The number of people employed in the foreign-owned companies is almost 48 percent of all jobs in Irish manufacturing.
According to the latest quarterly national accounts issued by the Central Statistics Office, the volume of output of industry in the second quarter increased by 15.9 percent and distribution, transport and communications grew by 17.2 percent
Consumer spending during the period was up over 10 percent and investment in new buildings and capital equipment was up 7 percent.
The figures were also boosted by a bigger trade surplus. The export of goods and services exceeded imports by £2,531 million compared to £2,086 in the same period in 1999.
On the jobs front, the Live Register rose by 485 in January, but when seasonal factors were taken into account, it actually fell by 1,300.
The Register fell by 34,091 in the year to January as a record numbers of jobs were created in the booming economy.
It is now at its lowest since December 1991.
Unemployment has been falling steadily from 12 percent in January 1996.
The Live Register is not a full measure of unemployment and includes part-time workers as well as those entitled to unemployment assistance or benefits.