Irish people spent almost €142 billion last year as the economy surged, the latest figures show.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said on Thursday that gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the Republic's total income, grew 8.2 per cent in 2018 to €324 billion.
Jennifer Banim, CSO assistant director general, said personal consumption of goods and services – how people spend their cash – grew 3.4 per cent last year.
The office’s figures show that spending rose to €141.8 billion in 2018 from €133.9 billion the previous year. Of this Irish people spent €22 billion on housing, including rent, local government charges and repairs, 10 per cent more than in 2017.
They paid €34.8 billion in tax on incomes and wealth, 8 per cent more than in 2017, when the figure was €32.2 billion.
Ms Banim noted that gross national product (GNP) – which measures total income but excludes multinational profits – rose 6.5 per cent to €253 billion.
Businesses in the Republic sold almost €400 billion worth of goods and services abroad last year, against €361 billion in 2017.
The economy continued growing in the first three months of this year, Ms Banim said. GDP increased 2.4 per cent to €83.6 billion, while GNP increased 2.1 per cent to €62.6 billion.
Information and communication – the technology industry – grew 11.5 per cent during the first quarter. Construction rose 5.6 per cent, while transport and hospitality business activity dipped 0.1 per cent.
Consumers spent €26.26 billion in the first three months of this year, an increase of around 3 per cent on the first quarter of 2018. the figures show.
Irish businesses sold €103 billion worth of goods and services abroad during the period, an increase of 11 per cent on the first quarter of 2018. Imports rose 15 per cent to €72.7 billion.
Employers welcomed the news. Gerard Brady, chief economist with business lobby group Ibec, said the numbers showed that the Republic's economy was growing despite rising global uncertainty.
“Recent data on wages, employment, investment and incomes had suggested that growth is broad based. These leading indicators are confirmed by today’s numbers.”
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the figures showed continued momentum in the Irish economy despite international headwinds. He noted that this tallied with the 4 per cent growth in the number of people working in the Republic in the first quarter of this year.
“Growth in the economy is broad-based, with positive contributions from both the domestic and multinational sectors. Exports of goods and services exceeded €100 billion for the second successive quarter.
“On the domestic side, household consumption was up 2.6 per cent year-on-year, while investment in housing increased 24 per cent, reflecting a much-needed pick up in supply, which has contributed to the recent moderation in house prices.”
Belgian lender KBC Bank predicted that the Republic’s economy could grow 5 per cent this year following the CSO announcement on Thursday.