783,000 men and women in Northern Ireland now wake up to a job every day

Latest figures show that 782,670 people in Northern Ireland wake up to a job every day
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NORTHERN Ireland has enjoyed 21 successive quarters of private sector employment growth, adding 75,690 jobs over that period, according to latest official government statistics.

Some 782,670 men and women wake up to a job every day, the total number having increased by 4,210 over the quarter and by 15,540 over the year.

And amid another raft of record-breaking numbers, the north's unemployment rate has dipped to just 2.3 per cent.

That's well below the average for the UK (3.8 per cent), the Republic (5.3 per cent) and the EU (6.3 per cent).

The region numbers came as UK unemployment dropped to its lowest level in 44 years in the three months to October, and the number of unemployed women hit a record low.

But the reduction in unemployment came as wage growth stalled over the period and the number of job vacancies also shrank.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits UK-wide decreased by 13,000 to 1.28 million for the quarter, the Office for National Statistics said, while the number in work increased by 24,000 to 32.8 million, while the proportion of people in employment stayed flat at 76.2 per cent.

Despite the increase, more people were also deemed economically inactive during the period, with the level increasing by 19,000 to 8.61 million for the quarter.

In Northern Ireland, the economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were not working and not seeking or available to work) increased over the quarter by 0.1 per cent but over the year dipped by 2 per cent to 25.9 per cent, one of the region's lowest-ever rates.

The number of confirmed redundancies increased over the year to 3,089 (which is 17 per cent higher than the previous 12 months figure of 2,644), and in November alone the Department for the Economy received confirmation that 89 redundancies took place over the month.

Commenting on the figures, Grant Thornton chief economist Andrew Webb said: “The local labour market continues to defy the uncertainty within the global economy and is challenging the pessimism being expressed in many sentiment surveys.

“The labour market added nearly 40,000 jobs in the year to October. This is excellent news for the local economy and the families that benefit.

“When a jobs market reaches these heights two questions are typically posed – is this full employment and, can it last? Unfortunately, the answer to both is no.

“A measure of true labour market tightness is the extent to which part-time workers would like more hours and the extent to which there is potential labour within the current ‘inactive' population. The latest figures for Northern Ireland suggest 16 per cent of part time workers want more hours - the highest proportion since 2015.

“There also remains a significant cohort classed in the economically inactive. There are many within that group that could be attracted into the labour market. So, while the unemployment rate suggests a very tight labour market, it may not be as tight as many might think.”

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