Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Unemployment falls to a record low in early 2018

Unemployment falls to a record low in early 2018

Unemployment in Northern Ireland has hit a record low of 3.1%, with a 2.1% fall over the a year ago signalling "real change" in the jobs market, according to official figures.

"Our employment rate at 69.7 per cent is the lowest of any UK region, with the rate of economic inactivity at 28 per cent, the highest of any UK region and a huge 7 percentage points above the UK average", she said. It was estimated to be 28 per cent over the last quarter - which represented 328,000 people - in contrast the average United Kingdom rate was 21 per cent, which was a record low. Crucially though it remains the lowest out of all United Kingdom regions.

NISRA said the North's jobless rate dropped significantly below the average United Kingdom rate of 4.2 per cent over the same period and was below the comparable European Union rate of 7.1 per cent in February and the Republic's 6.1 per cent unemployment rate in March.

The latest figures follow news that the country's productivity, measured by output per hour worked, fell by 1.9 per cent in real terms past year.

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn said: "The rise in the employment rate is welcome news and shows that despite the challenging economic conditions facing us as a result of Brexit, our economy and jobs market remains strong". By contrast male inactivity has jumped by 6 per cent over the past year, and is particularly prevalent among young males, aged 18 to 24, with the rate rocketing to a record high of 43.9 per cent.

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Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the record low in joblessness masked other problems.

"Longstanding challenges related to economic inactivity, job quality and productivity remain.Whilst there has been some improvement with falling economic inactivity in recent years concerns linked to job quality and poor regional productivity are intensifying".

Across the United Kingdom employment increased by 197,000 to 32.3 million, the highest figure since records began in 1971.

The number of people in employment also fell slightly by 2,000 to 2.63 million.

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