11/11/2009

NI Unemployment Rises

Figures released today have recorded a further increase in the Northern Ireland unemployment rate.

During the third quarter of 2009, the Northern Ireland seasonally adjusted unemployment rate - as measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) - was estimated at 7.2% for the period July to September 2009.

This represented an increase from the rate of 6.8% recorded in the previous quarter and was also up from the rate of 4.2% recorded in the same period one year ago.

However, more recent figures for October 2009 showed no change in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits - the first month that these figures have not increased since February 2008.

The annual increase in the unemployment rate was the largest increase since the LFS seasonally adjusted series began in 1995 and was the second highest increase among the UK regions.

However, the Northern Ireland unemployment rate remains below the UK average (7.8%) and is the joint fourth lowest rate among the UK regions.

It was also lower than the European Union (9.1%) and Republic of Ireland (12.5%) rates for August 2009.

The seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 53,700 (6.2% of the workforce) in October 2009.

This figure was unchanged from the previous month and represented the first time in 20 months that there was no increase in the Northern Ireland level.

The unchanged position in Northern Ireland meant that it had the third lowest monthly change in claimants among the UK regions (the East and South West of England reported decreases).
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The UK as a whole recorded an increase of 0.8% over the month. Over the year, the Northern Ireland claimant count has increased by 70.5% (22,200), compared to a UK increase of 62.8%. The Northern Ireland annual increase ranked fourth highest among the UK regions.

Seasonally adjusted estimates for the period July - September 2009 showed that there were 751,000 people in employment in Northern Ireland.

This estimate has increased marginally from the previous quarter (+0.8%), but was down 4.4% over the year.

The seasonally adjusted number of working age persons that were economically inactive decreased by an estimated 8,000 over the quarter and the corresponding working age economic inactivity rate decreased to 28.7% (in July - September 2009).

However, the Northern Ireland inactivity rate (28.7%) remained considerably higher than the UK average rate (21.1%) and was the highest of the UK regions.

The Department was notified of 184 confirmed redundancies, 6-8 which took place in October 2009.

This compared to 457 in September 2009 and 833 in October 2008. There has been a 74% increase in the number of confirmed redundancies over the last year to 31st October 2009 – 4,428 compared to 2,541 in the previous year.

NI Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster said: "While not unexpected, it is disappointing to see a rise in the unemployment rate during the third quarter of 2009.

"However, the more recent claimant count figures for October 2009 show that for the first time in 20 months, the number of unemployment benefit recipients in Northern Ireland did not rise over the month.

"The unchanged figures for Northern Ireland compare with a continued rise in claimant levels in the UK," she said.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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