Posted on Wednesday 15 October 2014 by Ulster Business

Unemployment falls but still work to do

The number of people out of work has fallen but Northern Ireland still has the longest dole queue and the biggest percentage of people not looking for work of all UK regions.

Those are the findings of the latest labour market figures which show the unemployment rate here stands at 6.1% for the three months to the end of August, down 0.5% from the previous quarter and much lower than the 10.5% in the Republic or 11.5% in the European Union.

Encouragingly, the number of young people out of work has also fallen, down a hefty 4.2% to 18.4%, alleviating a persistent problem during the last few recessionary years.

But despite the improvement for the headline numbers, there is still work to be done to try to alleviate some of the underlying issues in the Northern Ireland job market.

One sticking point is the dole queue - the claimant count – which fell by 300 in September and remains the highest level of all UK regions.

The economically inactive rate – those not actively looking for work of working age - holds the same position in its category and increased by 3,000 in quarter to the end of August to 27.2%.

Of that percentage, 29% were sick or disabled, 27% were students, 25% were looking after the family or home, 12% were retired and 7% were classified as “other”.

Despite that, data revealed in the same release showed the activity in the Northern Ireland economy has picked up by 1.2% during the same quarter, some the enterprise minister said has been helped by the raft of new job announcements over the last few months.

“Since the start of 2014 Invest Northern Ireland has announced over 1250 new jobs from 11 new inward investors,” Arlene Foster said. “It is the success of both our local companies and the decisions by global corporations to base themselves here that are continuing to drive Northern Ireland’s economic growth.”

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