North's unemployment rate above UK level for first time in a year

The north's unemployment rate has moved above the UK average for the first time in a year
Gareth McKeown

THE north's unemployment rate has moved above the UK average for the first time in a year, new official figures show.

The latest labour market statistics covering the period June through to August show the unemployment rate increased to 4.3 per cent - a jump of 0.9 per cent on the previous quarter, but a reduction over the year (0.4 per cent).

The Northern Ireland rate is now the joint fourth highest of all UK regions and above the average (4 per cent) for the first time in a year. Unemployment levels do, however, remain below the Republic of Ireland (5.9 per cent) and EU averages (6.8 per cent) from July.

Just over half (51 per cent) of those unemployed in the north were unemployed for one year or more according to the figures, compared to just a quarter in the UK.

The number of those in employment fell over the quarter by 0.6 per cent and now sits at 69.2 per cent The rate is 0.8 per cent higher than the same period a year ago, but remains well below the UK average (75.5 per cent) and the lowest of all regions.

The north's long-standing high rate of economic inactivity remained unchanged over the quarter at 27.5 per cent and continues to be the highest of all UK regions. The figure decreased by 0.6 per cent over the year.

FSB Northern Ireland policy chair, Tina McKenzie said the latest figures highlight a growing need to address the north's high level of economic inactivity.

“Northern Ireland's rate of economic inactivity, which includes those not in work or seeking employment, remains stubbornly high at 27.5 per cent showing no decrease over the quarter and more than six percentage points above the UK average.

“As one of the likely consequences of Brexit is a restriction on access to EU workers, it is even more imperative for any incoming Northern Ireland Executive to reduce our level of economic inactivity, which continues to have economic and societal consequences.”

Last month the number of people claiming unemployment benefits fell by 100 to 28,100 in September.

There were 84 confirmed redundancies in September, with the number of confirmed redundancies (2,889) over the past year 50 per cent higher than in the previous 12 months. A total of 729 redundancies were proposed between mid-September and mid-October.

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