Northern Ireland

500 more people in NI join dole queue in September

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Image caption Five hundred more people in NI claimed unemployment benefit in September

There has been a rise in the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Northern Ireland.

It rose by 500 in September. The total number of claimants is now 58,300.

The figures also recorded a slight fall in the NI unemployment rate to 7% during June - August, compared with the previous quarter.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the rise highlighted the ongoing impact of the recession on the NI labour market.

The figures also show that output from the NI Services sector rose by 0.4% during the second quarter of 2010, compared to an increase of 0.6% in the UK.

Output from NI Production sector fell by 0.5% during the same period, while UK output increased by 1%.

Ms Foster said the figures also highlighted the "fragile state of the recovery in Northern Ireland".

'Fostering economic growth key priority'

"Given the pressures on government expenditure, it is clear that the recovery must be led by the private sector," she said.

"Fostering economic growth is a key priority of the Northern Ireland Executive.

"The Executive sub-committee on the economy will continue to work on developing an economic strategy and will be consulting shortly on their framework for action.

"We will seek to secure from the UK Government the necessary policy levers to grow the dynamic and innovative economy."

Richard Ramsey, Chief Economist at the Ulster Bank said: "These deteriorating labour market conditions have occurred before the full force of the forthcoming public expenditure cuts are felt."

"The state of the housing market, and falling house prices, has arguably attracted the most attention over the last three years.

"Looking ahead, the labour market will be at the sharp end of the fiscal correction which is about to take place.

"Therefore the state of the labour market and rising unemployment, alongside the associated human impacts, will be under the economic spotlight over the next three years."