Posted on Wednesday 21 January 2015 by Ulster Business

Unemployment falls but still work to do

Further evidence of Northern Ireland’s improving job market has emerged as new statistics revealed a lower unemployment rate and shorter dole queue.

The headline unemployment rate stood at 5.8% in the three months to the end of November 2014, a drop of 0.3% on the previous quarter and down 1.5% on the same time last year, according to the Labour Force Survey published by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI).

Encouragingly, the number of young people out of work also fell by 3.4% over the year to 19.2% and the claimant count – the number of people claiming unemployment benefit – fell by 900 to 50,200 in December.

Although Northern Ireland still holds the highest claimant count rate of all UK regions of 5.7%, this latest drop represents the 24th consecutive month in which the rate has fallen, a drop of 14,600 over the two-year period.

“The last month has seen continuing evidence of job creation and significant investment in business for Northern Ireland,” DETI minister Arlene Foster said. “December saw announcements by Revel Systems and Whitehat Security. Meanwhile 2015 has also already got off to a good start with a major investment announcement by Randox. The development of a new manufacturing site in Antrim will see the creation of 540 new jobs a welcome boost for the local economy.

The rosier picture is tainted somewhat by a sharp rise in the rate of economic inactivity here, a reflection of the number of people who aren’t actively looking for work.

It climbed by a worrying 9,000 and now stands at 27.9%, once again the highest rate of all UK regions and well above the UK average of just 22.4%.

Of those classified economically inactive of working age, 28% were sick or disabled, 27% were students, 23% were looking after the family or home, 12% were retired and 9% were ‘other’ reason.

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