Jobless numbers in NI falls to all-time low

Richard Ramsey chief economist at Ulster Bank

Richard Ramsey chief economist at Ulster Bank

Unemployment in Northern Ireland has hit a record low of 3.1%, with a 2.1% fall over the past year signalling "real change" in the jobs market, according to official figures. It was estimated to be 28 per cent over the last quarter - which represented 328,000 people - in contrast the average United Kingdom rate was 21 per cent, which was a record low.

It was one of the lowest unemployment rates of the United Kingdom regions and was below the European Union at 7.1% in February and the Republic of Ireland which stood at 6.1% in March.

Unemployment fell by 6,000 in Scotland over the first three months of this year, according to official figures.

"In contrast to the NI experience, the United Kingdom results also show the lowest inactivity rates on record".

The labour market statistics also show contrasting performances in relation to gender, with females driving the improvement in the figures.

"Once more, we continue to outperform the United Kingdom on employment and unemployment rates for young people, with 55.6 per cent of young people in employment in Scotland compared to 54.1 per cent of young people in the United Kingdom".

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The results for this quarter, published today, show that the unemployment rate decreased by 0.8 %from the previous quarter and 2.1 % over the year.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the record low in joblessness masked other problems. "Long-standing challenges related to economic inactivity, job quality and productivity remain", he added.

"The improvements in the local labour market are similar to that of the United Kingdom labour market, which is reporting the highest employment rate and lowest unemployment rates on record", the agency added.

FSB Northern Ireland policy chair, Tina McKenzie believes the high economic inactivity rate requires "immediate attention".

The number of people in employment also fell slightly by 2,000 to 2.63 million. There were 308 confirmed redundancies in April, the highest monthly total since November 2016, while there was a decrease of approximately a third in the number of confirmed redundancies (2,067) over the year to April 30.

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