Posted on Thursday 17 July 2014 by Ulster Business

Unemployment falls but still work to do

The number of people out of work in Northern Ireland has fallen, according to new statistics

The number of people out of work here as fallen but Northern Ireland’s labour market still has a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the UK, according to new statistics.

The headline unemployment rate, worked out by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency through a survey of the population, was pegged at 6.7% for the three months to the end of May, down 1% on the previous quarter.

And while the claimant count – the number of people claiming benefit – also fell, the overall figure doesn’t compare well to the rest of the UK.

It dropped by 900 to 54,300 in June, but Northern Ireland’s claimant count rate of 6.1% was the highest of all UK regions and well above the UK average of 3.1%.

The economic activity rate, the Achilles heel of the job market here for a number of years, showed little signs of abating.

It measures the number of people of working age who aren’t looking for a job and rose by 6,000 in the quarter to the end of May.

At 26.8%, it remains the highest rate of all 12 UK regions and well above the UK average of 21.7%.

Still, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said overall improvement in the labour market is encouraging.

“A further decrease in the Northern Ireland unemployment rate is welcome, as is the sustained decrease in the number of unemployment benefit claimants, which has reduced by 8,800 over the last 12 months,” she said.

 “These positive signals of growth in the labour market are a reflection of continued investment and job creation, much of which has been secured with support from Invest NI. This trend is continuing, with over 1,000 new jobs announced since the beginning of July alone.”

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