Northern Ireland

NI unemployment falls for a twelfth consecutive month

Jobs and benefits office
Image caption Official figures show that 300 people came off the register in March, putting the jobless total at 31,500

Unemployment in Northern Ireland has fallen for a twelfth month in a row.

Official figures show that 300 people came off the register in March, putting the jobless total at 31,500.

The Northern Ireland unemployment rate also fell to 5.2% - the lowest it has been since last 2008 - but still above the UK average (4.7%).

Northern Ireland also trails the rest of the UK in terms of the proportion of its workforce in employment - 69% versus 75%.

However, one economist has said the data includes evidence of "a lost decade."

'No improvement in 10 years'

Dr Esmond Birnie, of the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, said the Northern Ireland employment figure is "very similar" to 10 years ago.

"In other words over the last decade there has been no improvement," he said.

The figures also show a change in the composition of the labour market in recent times, with more self-employed and part-time workers.