Larger employers announce more than 10,000 redundancies since March

Of the 10,470 redundancies proposed by employers since March, around a third were manufacturing jobs.
Ryan McAleer

LARGER employers have now announced more than 10,000 redundancies in the north since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, but the real number of jobs lost is likely closer to 30,000.

The latest monthly labour market report from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) revealed the pace of job cuts picked up in November, with the Department for the Economy (DfE) notified of 1,370 proposed, up from 820 in October.

Another 340 redundancies were proposed in the first 11 days of December.

It brings the total since March to 10,470. Around a third of the redundancies were proposed by manufacturers, with just over 2,000 cuts proposed in the retail trade. Another 1,150 went in the hospitality and tourism sector.

But employers are only required to give notice to DfE when cutting more than 20 staff.

NISRA’s report shows that the north’s claimant count has more than doubled to 60,000 since March.

It includes people on Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit, claiming mainly for the reason of being unemployed.

The addition of 30,200 claimants since March is supported by other datasets in the labour market report, which suggests that the number of self-employed workers in the north has dropped by 18,000 since last year.

HMRC’s data on pay as you earn (PAYE) workers is also down by 12,300 since March.

Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate officially stood at 3.9 per cent over August to October, a quarterly increase of almost one per cent.

The unemployment rate is still below the UK average of 4.9 per cent and the 7.3 per cent rate in the Republic.

But NISRA estimates that the unemployment rate among 16-24 year-olds stands at around 11.7 per cent.

SDLP’s economy spokesperson Sinead McLaughlin described the figures as worrying. She said the impact of the Covid-19 sits on top of deep seated weakness in the labour market here.

"Northern Ireland has to not only put in place an economic recovery plan, but also has to address the deep seated problems in our economy,” said the MLA.

“These relate to weak productivity, infrastructure deficits that we are only now getting to grips with and a severe shortage of necessary skills.

“We have to accelerate our vocational training programmes and ensure that all pupils leaving school have the basic skills needed to have a rewarding working life."

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