12/12/2007

Employment Levels Hit Record High

Christmas may be the time to be merry, but it looks like there is reason to celebrate well in to 2008 as figures just released have shown that Northern Ireland has the highest number of jobs on record – with many more people working in both the building and construction world, as well as in the service sector.

Adding that to the news that the unemployment rate remains low and things are looking good for the coming New Year.

Seasonally adjusted figures from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment's Quarterly Employment Survey estimated that there were 720,210 employee jobs filled in September 2007, representing a net increase of 1,450 over the quarter and an increase of 12,010 over the year.

The overall increase over the quarter was driven by rises in Service Sector jobs (+1,170) and Construction jobs (+640).

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Northern Ireland was estimated at 4.0% for the period August - October 2007.

This represents an increase from the rate recorded in the previous quarter (3.4%), but a fall from the rate for the same period one year ago (4.6%).

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland unemployment rate also remains below the UK average (5.3%) and is also considerably lower than the 'EU27' rate (7.0%) for September 2007.

The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stands at 23,300. This shows an increase of 100 from the previous month – but is down 3,900 over the year.

However, there is still some way to go on the number of people who are not working and not looking for work – the sector known as economically inactive – with the latest seasonally adjusted working age economic inactivity rate in Northern Ireland (27.0%) remaining similar to the high rate for the previous quarter (27.1%).

Unfortunately, the latest Northern Ireland rate remains significantly higher than the UK average of 21.2% and it continues to be the highest of all the UK regions.

Commenting on the figures, the NI Assembly's Economy Minister, Nigel Dodds said: "The number of jobs in Northern Ireland has once again risen to its highest ever level and this represents positive news for the labour market.

"It is encouraging to note that the entire increase in jobs over the year is accounted for by the private sector, which increased by some 12,830 jobs during the last year.

"The private services sector in particular recorded an annual growth of close to 10,000 jobs and has continued to be the driving force in jobs growth in Northern Ireland.

"Despite the slight rise in unemployment over the quarter, the Northern Ireland unemployment rate has fallen over the year and continues to be considerably lower than the averages for the UK and European Union.

"The draft Programme for Government reinforced our commitment to developing a strong and vibrant economy in Northern Ireland. My recent business missions to the United States also provided important opportunities to highlight the potential of the Northern Ireland workforce and the business expertise that exists here.

"I am determined that next year’s US Investment Conference will assist us in building strong economic conditions on which to deliver the target of over 6,500 new jobs by 2011, through inward investment projects," the Assembly Minister concluded.

(BMcC/JM)

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