NI unemployment rate shows slight rise

Northern Ireland's unemployment rate has risen slightly, but has remained below the UK average for the tenth consecutive month.

Latest official figures also show increased output levels for both production and service sector industries.

The NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in NI was 4.5% for the period March - May 2006. This is up from a rate of 4.1% recorded for the previous quarter, but is down from a rate of 4.9% recorded for the same period last year. The latest NI rate is below the UK average (5.4%) and is also considerably lower than the EU25 rate (8.3%) for April 2006.

Seasonally adjusted figures for the period March - May 2006 estimate that there were 757,000 people in employment in Northern Ireland. The new figures represent an estimated decrease of 0.7% in employment levels over the quarter, but an increase of 2.2% over the year.

During the last month, the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits decreased by 300. The latest seasonally adjusted claimant count figure stands at 28,000, down 700 over the year.

Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister, Maria Eagle said: "The continuing low levels of unemployment in Northern Ireland are very welcome. The latest rate is 0.9 percentage points below the UK average and is the second lowest rate among the UK regions."

Provisional results from the experimental Index of Services (IOS) for the first quarter of 2006, estimate that the NI service sector has increased by 5.6% in real terms since the same period last year. This compares with an estimated increase of 3.0% for the UK as a whole over the same period.

Results from the Index of Production (IOP) for the first quarter of 2006 show that production in Northern Ireland has increased by 3.7% over the quarter, while the UK reported an increase of 0.8%. Over the year NI output levels have increased by 2.9%, whereas the equivalent UK figure fell by 0.9%.

Northern Ireland manufacturing output, the main component of the production index, increased by 3.6% over the quarter and by 2.4% over the year. The equivalent UK figures showed an increase of 0.9% over the quarter, but a fall of 0.4% over the year.


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