The most recent employment figures show that the Irish Republic jobs market has grown for the first time since 2008.
Statistics from the latest Quarterly National Accounts Data indicate that the gradual recovery of the Irish economy is continuing.
The preliminary GDP data for 2012 points to a second consecutive year of positive growth, although at a slightly lower level than in 2011.
It was a performance that was recorded despite the more challenging external environment, with the second half of 2012 witnessing a slowdown in growth at the broader international level.
This was particularly relevant in the context of Ireland’s main trading partners.
While weaker global demand has slowed export growth, the increase in export volumes has remained sufficiently strong to offset the impact of continued decline in domestic demand.
Even though the Irish economic horizon is brightening, the latest findings from the Close Brothers Business Barometer* indicate that cash flow is the main concern for a fifth of Irish business owners, with a further 17% having difficulties accessing finance.
The findings further reveal that an understanding of access to alternative methods of funding is still lacking on a number of fronts.
While many SMEs are anticipating growth within the next year, the Barometer statistics revealed that 53% of business owners in Ireland are unaware of asset finance as a means of facilitating such growth.
Europe or UK for exports?
The results of the Business Barometer show that Irish businesses view Europe as having greater export growth prospects during the next 12 months.
For companies with a €5 million plus turnover, 54% see Europe as having the greater potential.
In the same category the number of firms that saw growth potential in the UK was 29%.
*The Close Brothers Business Barometer is conducted on a quarterly basis. It canvasses the opinion of SME owner managers on a range of issues affecting their business.