Northern Ireland

Number of people claiming unemployment benefit rises

Job centre
Image caption The unemployment rate in Northern Ireland has risen to 58,600

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

The number of people claiming benefit has risen to 58,600, a monthly increase of 400 in October.

NI's increase was the highest monthly rise in the number claiming unemployment benefits in 12 UK regions.

The figures show there is a now a divergence between NI and the rest of the UK.

Over the year, the Northern Ireland claimant count has increased by almost nine per cent compared to a fall of 10% in the UK.

Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster said: "It was disappointing to note the rise in unemployment levels reported in the latest set of statistics.

"The Northern Ireland labour market is still feeling the effects of the scale of the recent recession, as well as the continued weakness of the Republic of Ireland economy."

Ms Foster said it was important to note that the "magnitude" of the increase in unemployed claimants has "slowed considerably" in Northern Ireland during the last year.

"The average monthly increase was 400 during this period and this compares with an average monthly increase of some 1,900 persons during the previous 12 months.

"In addition, the latest Northern Ireland unemployment rate of 7% remained below the UK (7.7%), Republic of Ireland (13.9%) and European Union (9.6%) rates."

Angela McGowan, Chief Economist, Northern Bank said: "The fact that the dramatic job losses that we saw in 2009 have now eased is good news.

"Nonetheless, with so many local people now claiming unemployment benefit in the run up to Christmas, there is no doubt that some local households will be finding conditions very tough, particularly when this benefit dependency coincides with rising prices.

"Combating unemployment and creating job opportunities must remain a policy priority for Northern Ireland and government support for training and enterprise is now more important than ever."

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