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Signs of labour market weakening despite record payroll number

The north's claimant count increased by around 500 people last month.

NORTHERN Ireland’s labour market is showing some signs of weakening, despite a record number of people on company payrolls last month.

A total of 781,262 people were registered on HMRC’s PAYE (pay as you earn) system during October.

That was 1,295 more people than in September.

The figures have been published along with the latest labour market report by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).

Last month’s report showed payroll numbers dropped in the north for the first time in over a year.

And the latest report showed some signs of worsening economic conditions.

The unemployment rate has officially climbed to 3 per cent for the three-month period to September, while around 500 people were added to the claimant count in October.

The count, which includes people claiming jobseeker’s allowance and universal credit claimants, who were claiming principally for the reason of being unemployed, rose to 36,100 last month.

Although the claimant count has decreased by 9,800 in a year, it’s still 6,300 higher than March 2020, as Covid-19 hit the north.

On Monday, the latest PMI from Ulster Bank showed output in the private sector is in decline, but companies still appear to be adding jobs and are encountering problems with recruitment, pointing to an extremely tight labour market here.

Perhaps reflective of that, Nisra estimates the overall employment rate in Northern Ireland increased by 0.4 percentage points to 70.1 per cent for the rolling three months to September 2022.

The number of larger employers pursuing redundancies also remains low, with just 60 confirmed redundancies during October.

Nisra said the 940 confirmed redundancies it recorded in the last year was the lowest rolling 12-month total in the series, which began in 2000.

The figures only include cases where employers are laying off 20 or more employees. 

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