Ireland's service sector expanded at the strongest rate since the pandemic began in February last year in April, survey data from IHS Markit showed on Thursday.
The AIB Ireland services Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 57.7 in April from 54.6 in March. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.
Total workload accelerated to the second strongest in two-an-a-half years in April, amid a sharper rise in new business. Exports increased at the fastest rate since July 2018.
Backlogs of work rose for the second straight month in April and at the fastest rate since May 2018. Employment increased for the third time since the pandemic began.
The outlook for the next 12 months rose to the highest in April and sentiment improved in all four sub-sectors.
The rate of input price inflation eased slightly in April and the rate of charged inflation was the strongest since February last year.
Private sector output, covering manufacturing and services, expanded the most since September 2018. The composite output index rose to 58.1 in April from 54.5 in the previous month.
"Although much of the services sector remains in lockdown, the data are encouraging as all the main components of the survey showed significant improvements," Oliver Mangan, AIB chief economist, said.