Northern Ireland

NI unemployment level falls in February

Benefits office sign
Image caption Jobless figures have dropped for the tenth month in a row.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Northern Ireland fell by 300 in February.

According to the latest official figures, the total now stands at 31,600.

However, another measure of the labour market, the unemployment rate, recorded a rise to 5.7% for the period between November and January.

That compares to the UK average of 4.7%.

Other data also released on Wednesday contained positives for the Northern Ireland economy.

Manufacturing output rose in the last quarter of 2016 - up by 4.3% on the previous three months.

The figure likely reflects a weaker pound which has been a major influence in boosting export business.

Northern Ireland's service sector also had a good end to 2016, with output up by 1.6% on the preceding quarter.