17/12/2008

Jobless Figures Highest In Nearly 30 Years

While the construction industry in Northern Ireland accounted for approximately one third of a dramatic rise in the number of unemployment benefit claimants in November, job losses have been more widely spread among other sectors this month.

Figures released today show the largest monthly increase in claimants across all sectors in almost 30 years.

A large fall in Northern Ireland's employment level was also recorded between June and September 2008.

The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits increased by 3,100 during the latest month to 34,100 in November 2008.

This increase represented the largest monthly increase in 28 years (since October 1980).

The number of unemployed claimants in Northern Ireland in November 2008 (34,100) was the same as the level reported five years ago (34,100 in November 2003).

Seasonally adjusted estimates from the Quarterly Employment Survey showed that there were 718,370 employee jobs filled in September 2008.

This represented an estimated net decrease of 6,990 over the quarter and a fall of 4,420 over the year. The decrease over the quarter was driven by falls in service sector (-4,280), construction sector (-1,600) and manufacturing sector jobs (-1,120).

It represented the largest quarterly decrease in the seasonally adjusted employee jobs series since December 1980.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Northern Ireland, as measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS), was estimated at 4.3% for the period August - October 2008.

This was essentially unchanged from the rate of 4.4% recorded last quarter, but was up from the rate of 4.1% recorded in the same period one year ago.

The Northern Ireland unemployment rate remained below the UK average (6.0%) and was joint lowest among the UK regions. It also compared favourably to the European Union (7.0%) and Republic of Ireland (6.6%) rates for September 2008.

Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "The latest figures show that the global downturn is making an impact in Northern Ireland. This is the largest monthly increase in the registered unemployed since 1980.

"There are also signs that the construction led downturn is now spreading into other areas of the economy, with sectors such as manufacturing facing increased difficulties."

(BMcC)

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