Northern Ireland labour market entered winter in strong shape, latest official data suggests

HMRC wage data shows the median monthly wage for the north’s payrolled workers in December was 7.5% higher than 12 months earlier

Commuters walking with umbrellas in the rain on a busy street.
The north's labour market entered the winter with strong rates of employment and economic activity, the latest labour market data suggests. (BaronVisi/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Northern Ireland’s labour market entered the winter in strong shape, the latest official data suggests.

Both the rates of unemployment (2.4%) and employment (72.4%) in the three months to November 2023 were close to recent records set in December’s labour market report, which showed unemployment at 2.1% and the employment rate at 72.8% in the three months to October.

Similarly, the rates of economic activity (74.2%) and inactivity (25.8%) in the same period were within range of the best rates recorded by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).

The most up-to-date figures from HMRC showed 795,899 employees on PAYE payrolls in December, which was 0.1% down on November 2023, but 1.5% higher than December 2022.

HMRC’s PAYE data also points to a December wage boost in the north, with the median monthly pay increasing by £76 (3.6%) over the month to £2,160.

That left median monthly wages for PAYE workers 7.5% up over the year.

The official rate of inflation in the UK was 3.9% for the year to November 2023.

Northern Ireland’s claimant count also increased in December, rising by 0.3% from November to 36,300, the equivalent of 3.7% of the entire workforce.

The claimant count remains 21.6% higher than the pre-pandemic level recorded in March 2020.

Meanwhile, Nisra said the Department for the Economy (DfE), received confirmation that 60 redundancies occurred in December.

Employers are only required to provide such notification when making at least 20 redundancies.

It brought the total number of redundancies recorded by Nisra to 2,570 in 2023.

A total of 4,190 redundancies were proposed in the same period.

The total number of weekly hours worked in the north was estimated at 29.1 million hours, an increase of 5% on the previous quarter and an increase of 2.1% on the equivalent period last year.