Hamilton welcomes record high employment rate and historic low in economic inactivity

Date published: 15 June 2016


Figures released today for the period February - April 2016 show that the Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey unemployment rate was 5.8% - a decrease of 0.2 percentage points over the quarter and 0.4 percentage points over the year.

Hamilton welcomes record high employment rate and historic low in economic inactivity
Hamilton welcomes record high employment rate and historic low in economic inactivity

More recent figures for May 2016 show the number of claimants in receipt of unemployment related benefits stood at 37,200, a decrease of 600 over the month. There has been a fall of 6,600 in the unemployment claimant figures over the last 12 months.

The employment rate (69.6%) increased over the quarter and the year to February – April 2016 which is the highest rate since the series began in 1995. The economic inactivity rate decreased over the quarter and the year to 26.0%. This is also the lowest inactivity rate since the series began in 1995.

Businesses reported (in the Quarterly Employment Survey) that the number of employee jobs increased over the quarter to March 2016 (0.5% or 3,870 jobs) and over the year (1.7% or 11,930 jobs) to 735,010.

Commenting on the figures, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said: “I warmly welcome this positive news showing a further fall in unemployment in Northern Ireland, a record rate of employment and an historic low level in economic activity. One of my key objectives as Economy Minister is to ensure continued growth of employment and the reduction of economic inactivity. While employment contributes to wealth and value added in the economy, on an individual level secure employment provides people with financial stability as well as wider benefits, including better health and greater social stability.

“It is vital that while we ensure we increase the number of employment opportunities, we also increase the proportion of people working in good jobs. The figures published contain positive messages across a range of key labour market indicators. In particular, following reductions in unemployment over the medium term I welcome the record employment rate and the historic low in the economic inactivity rates. In addition, the number of employee jobs continues to increase overall, including growth across the manufacturing, construction and services sectors and has now returned to pre-downturn levels.

“Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate (5.8%) continues to compare very favourably to the March 2016 rate for the European Union (8.8%) and Republic of Ireland (8.6%).”

Further information on the latest labour market figures is available in the Labour Market Statistics Economic Overview and from the Northern Ireland Executive website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
  2. General information can be obtained from Andrew Mawhinney, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch, on Tel: 028 9052 9668.

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