DUBLIN (Reuters) - Activity in Ireland’s services sector recovered slightly in May from a record plunge the previous month, a survey showed on Thursday, but it remained at the second-lowest level ever recorded.
The AIB IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) forservices improved to 23.4 in May from 13.9 in April, far below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. The survey peaked at a two-year high of 59.9 in February.
That indicated that Ireland’s services sector is lagging the recovery in other EU countries, many of which are re-opening their economies at a quicker pace. IHS Markit’s euro zone final services PMI, published on Wednesday, rose to 30.5 in May from a record low of 12.0 in April.
Ireland last month laid out a relatively conservative roadmap for reopening its economy, with restaurants to begin opening in late June followed by hotels in July and pubs in August.
The slower recovery of the Irish index is “consistent with containment measures being unwound at a slower pace”, AIB Chief Economist Oliver Mangan said.
“We expect a rebound in activity from the current depressed levels will be seen over the summer months as lockdown restrictions are eased and the economy starts to open up again,” he said.
Irish manufacturing activity also recovered slightly in May, while the unemployment rate, including temporary layoffs linked to the coronavirus, fell to 26.1% from a record 28.2% in April, separate data showed this week.
Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Catherine Evans