Northern Ireland sees unemployment increase

Unemployment in the North has risen and so too has the number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, according to new figures released today.

The unemployment rate for January to March was 4.6% – up 0.4% or 3,000 on the previous quarter to a total of 38,000 – and also 4,000 up on the same time last year.

The benefits claimant count was up 400 over the month to 24,500 and up 800 on three months ago, the Labour Market Survey showed.

At the same time the number of people in employment was up 3,000 over both the quarter and the year at 787,000 – an increase of 0.4%.

The latest seasonally adjusted working age economic inactivity rate in Northern Ireland – 26.9% – was essentially unchanged from the figure of 27.0% recorded for the previous quarter.

The Northern rate continues to be significantly above the UK average of 20.9% and is the highest in all the UK regions.

Commenting on the figures, Northern economy minister Nigel Dodds said: “While there has been a slight rise in the recent unemployment levels, it is still encouraging to note that our unemployment rate remains below both the UK and European averages.

“When combined with the news that Northern Ireland employment levels have increased, it highlights the resilience being shown by our economy.”

The minister pledged he would continue to work with all the relevant stakeholders to promote private sector development and to strengthen the conditions needed for economic growth.

He added: “Our aim is to develop Northern Ireland into one of the most competitive and successful areas in Europe and the positive feedback following the recent US-NI Investment Conference suggests that we are moving in the right direction.”

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