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NI labour market shows signs of recovery following indoor reopening

D&G's Bistro Cafe at Smithfield Market in Belfast. The reopening of indoor retail and hospitality helped the recovery of the north’s labour market during May. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

THE number of people on company payrolls in the north increased by around 5,000 during May, the latest official data suggests.

The monthly snapshot of the Northern Ireland labour market showed most indicators moving in the direction of recovery as the economy eased out of lockdown.

The number of employees on HMRC payrolls has now increased for six successive months to 745,900, the highest figure since March 2020.

Around 14,000 jobs were lost from the HMRC payroll in the first six months of the pandemic, but almost two-thirds (8,631) have now been recovered.

The unemployment claimant count fell again during May, dropping 3.4 per cent to 54,300. However, it still remains 24,000 above March 2020.

The official unemployment rate for February to April fell to 3.1 per cent, while economic inactivity also fell.

But, the NI Research and Statistics Agency report showed a slight pick-up in proposed redundancies in June. A total of 150 redundancies were proposed in May, with another 360 proposed in the first two weeks of June.

Firms are only required to inform government of job cuts when laying off at least 20 staff.

The Department for the Economy was notified of 280 confirmed redundancies during May, taking the annual total to 5,920, the highest 12-month figure since 2001.

The latest HMRC data put the number of furloughed jobs in Northern Ireland at around 90,000 at the end of April.

It suggests that around 12,000 people came off furlough during the month of April.

That figure is expected to take another sharp fall in May following the reopening of indoor hospitality.

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