NI unemployment rate falls to lowest level since 2008

Unemployment in the north is now at its lowest level for nine years according to the latest Labour Market Statistics
Gareth McKeown

THE unemployment rate in the north is at its lowest level for nine years, but the number of those in employment has dropped significantly in the last quarter according to the latest figures.

The Labour Market Statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, with the unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent for the period January - March the lowest since October to December 2008.

This is unchanged from the previous quarter but down 0.8 percentage points over the year.

The north's unemployment rate is above the UK average of 4.6 per cent, but below the Republic (6.6 per cent) and European Union rate (8 per cent) for February 2017.

The decrease in the number of unemployed over the year includes falls in the number of youth and long-term unemployed.

The figures also show that the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits in April fell by 200 in the space of a month. The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 31,500 in April 2017.

In terms of employment there was the largest decrease in the rate over the quarter since 2009. The rate fell from 69.9 per cent to 68.4 per cent, representing the largest decrease since January to March 2009.

It should be noted though that the fourth quarter of 2016 was the highest employment rate recorded.

The decrease in employment was not experienced across the board with falls in full-time and part-time employees outweighing the increase in the numbers of self employed over the quarter and year.

Economic inactivity rate rose by 1.6 per cent over the quarter to 27.7 per cent and 1.5 per cent over the year, the largest quarterly increase in the Northern Ireland economically inactive rate since the quarterly series began in 1995, while there was a 16 per cent increase in the number of redundancies over the last year. There were 3,031 confirmed redundancies compared to 2,603 in the previous year, with 131 reported in April 2017.

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