Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland unemployment continues to fall

Jobs and Benefits office sign
Image caption The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Northern Ireland is 45,200

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Northern Ireland fell by 1,000 in March.

It is the 27th consecutive month there has been a fall, according to government-produced figures.

The overall total for Northern Ireland now stands at 45,200, a fall of 11,700 over the last 12 months.

However, the local unemployment rate, at 6%, is above the UK average.

But the number of people classified as "economically inactive" has fallen, the figures show.

This refers to working-age people who are classed as neither in work nor seeking work.

In the quarter between December 2014 and February 2015, the inactivity rate for those aged 16 to 64 dropped by one percentage point to 26.8%.

That remained above the UK average rate (22.1%) and is the highest among the twelve UK regions.

Danske Bank's chief economist Angela McGowan said the figures showed that Northern Ireland's economy has the potential to thrive.

"For that to happen the region needs to create a united vision of a shared future," she said.

"Polarised politics needs to be put in the background and we need to prioritise long-term economic investments in areas such as education and skills."

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