Unemployment rate falls to 6.9%
Figures released today for the period February – April 2014 show that the Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey unemployment rate was 6.9% – a decrease of 0.6 percentage points over the quarter and 0.9 percentage points over the year.
More recent figures for May 2014 show that the number of claimants in receipt of unemployment related benefits decreased by 500 over the month. There has been a fall of 8,400 in the unemployment claimant figures over the last 12 months.
The total number of employee jobs in Northern Ireland was estimated at 711,210 for March 2014, representing an increase of 3,310 (0.5%) over the quarter, and an increase of 15,980 (2.3%) over the year. This is now the eighth consecutive quarterly increase in employee jobs.
Commenting on the figures, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “The figures published today provide positive signs across a number of key labour market indicators. Both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployment benefit claimants have decreased over the quarter and the year. In addition, the number of employee jobs continues to increase, representing the eighth consecutive quarterly increase in this measure.
“The rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland (6.9%) compares favourably to the rates in the European Union (10.5%) and the Republic of Ireland (11.8%).”
Statistics released today for the Index of Services and Production were positive with both showing increased output over the year.
Arlene Foster continued: “There is further good news in terms of the economic output measures, with annual increases in both the Index of Production and Index of Services. This has also been reflected by the latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index, in which firms have reported the sharpest rise in new orders since the survey began in August 2002.
“Northern Ireland has seen significant investment and job creation recently and Invest NI has been instrumental in much of this, securing over £1 billion of investment and promoting 11,000 jobs in its best year end performance to date.
“This continued growth in the local economy allows more businesses to invest in research and development, helping them to compete in global markets, as well as providing high quality employment opportunities for local people.
“My Department will continue to encourage inward investment by promoting the benefits of Northern Ireland as a cost-competitive location, offering developed infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce.”
Danske Bank Chief Economist, Angela McGowan, said: “The UK economy continues to move rapidly towards what Mr Carney describes as “escape velocity”, with unemployment falling to 6.6 per cent and employment levels rising by over three quarters of a million during the last 12 months. The Northern Ireland economy is by no means immune to this recovery with local employment levels continuing to rise and unemployment claimants declining.
“Stronger household spending power is providing a firm demand base in the local economy and the improved global climate has provided a fair degree of assurance to the corporate side of our economy. A vote of confidence also comes from the strong Foreign Direct Investment levels. The combination of FDI and a more confident NI business community should see employment levels rise from the current the 821,000 to over 840,000 by 2016.
“Sectors with higher than average employment growth in the next two years will include: ICT; Administrative and Support Services; Professional and Scientific; Arts & Entertainment; and Construction.”
Further information on the latest labour market figures is available in the Labour Market Statistical Press Release (see http://www.detini.gov.uk/labour-market-report-lmr) and from the Northern Ireland Executive website (http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/index/media-centre.htm).