Dropping Unemployment Figures

12 March 2014

Northern Ireland's jobs market has experienced a full year of declining unemployment, according to a recent article in the Irish News.

According to the latest Labour Force Survey, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits fell by 600 last month to 58,700 - the 12th consecutive month it has reduced. However, the jobless rate - at 7.4 per cent - is higher than the UK average

Enterprise minister Arlene Foster said the results were "encouraging".

"The rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland is slightly above that of the UK (7.2 per cent) but compares favourably to the rates in the European Union (10.9 per cent) and the Republic of Ireland (12.3 per cent)," she said. "While there are positive signals of growth in the local economy, we cannot take any of this for granted. Going forward, we must focus on raising companies' productivity through investing in innovation, R&D and skills and encouraging local firms to enter new markets."

Danske Bank's chief economist in the north Angela McGowan said the data showed "there is still a fair degree of slack in the economy. Even as GDP picks up we could well find that the unemployment rate does not fall as fast in 2014 as was observed last year. There are a number of reasons for this," she said.

"In the first instance, there is every chance that employers will choose to respond to increasing demand by making part-time workers full-time, rather than recruiting new employees. Northern Ireland currently has around 173,000 employees who work on a part-time basis and employer surveys have shown that employers continue to hire on a part-time basis.

"Secondly, the available workforce continues to expand as young people leave school or college but older workers continue to participate - making the pool of available workers much larger."

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