Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland unemployment falls to 44,300

Jobcentre Plus Image copyright PA
Image caption Figures show that fewer people are out of work

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Northern Ireland fell by a further 900 in April.

It is the 28th consecutive month there has been a fall in the claimant count, with the total figure now at 44,300.

Over the last 12 months, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit has fallen by almost 12,000.

The figures have been published by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

The other measure of unemployment, the Labour Force Survey, showed an unemployment rate of 6.2% in the first quarter of this year.

That is one percentage point less than the figures for last year and half a percentage point more than the previous quarter.

Weaker performance

The Northern Ireland jobs market has recovered in parallel with the UK as a whole.

However, the Northern Ireland performance has been weaker than the UK average.

The annual drop in jobseekers claimants in Northern Ireland was 20.9%, which was the lowest decrease of the 12 UK regions.

The annual decrease for the UK as whole was 31.4%.

Northern Ireland also continues to have a distinct problem with economic inactivity; working-age people who are classed as neither in work nor seeking unemployment.

The Northern Ireland economic inactivity rate for those aged 16-64 stood at 26.9% which is the highest of the 12 UK regions.

Youth unemployment

In the first quarter of the year, the numbers classed as inactive fell by 20,000 to 557,000.

The Northern Ireland Executive has produced a strategy aimed at getting more inactive people into work.

Youth joblessness also continues to be a problem with the unemployment rate for 18-24-year-olds at 21.8% - that is up 3.2 percentage points over the year.

Ulster Bank Economist Richard Ramsey said that was double the rate than when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in April 1998.

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