14/06/2006

Minister welcomes increase in NI jobs

Northern Ireland's Economy Minister, Maria Eagle has today welcomed the continuing growth in Northern Ireland jobs figures.

The figures, which were released today, show that Northern Ireland has the highest number of jobs on record, and the unemployment rate remains below the UK average.

Commenting on the figures, the Minister said: "These figures show that the Northern Ireland labour market is continuing to perform well. The number of jobs has grown to their highest ever level, with significant increases being recorded in the Service Sector and Construction industries during the last year. In addition, the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland remains below the UK average and is one of the lowest in Europe."

Seasonally adjusted figures from the Quarterly Employment Survey estimated that there were 695,590 employee jobs filled in March 2006, representing a net increase of 1,430 over the quarter and an increase of 3,280 over the year.

The latest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in NI is estimated at 4.9%.

This figure has risen from a rate of 4.0% recorded for the previous quarter, but is unchanged from the rate recorded for the same period last year.

The latest NI unemployment rate is below the UK average of 5.3% and is also considerably lower than the EU25 rate of 8.4% for March 2006.

The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stands at 28,500. This figure shows an increase of 200 over the month, but is down 200 over the year.

The Minister continued: “The demand in the Northern Ireland labour market remains strong, but we must continue to build on our strengths to ensure that this growth can be maintained in the upcoming years. Northern Ireland businesses must look to the future in order to maintain a competitive advantage. By being more market aware and investing in research and business development, our companies will be able to stay ahead of the competition and ensure continued economic growth."

(EF/SP)

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