Labour Market and Economic Output Statistics Published

Date published: 14 June 2017

The Labour Market Statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

Labour Force Survey (LFS) unemployment fell but employment rate decreased and economic inactivity increased.

  • There was a decrease (0.5 pps) in the employment rate (68.8%) over the quarter and (1.0 pps) over the year.The economic inactivity rate (27.2%) increased by 0.8 percentage points over the quarter and 1.4 pps over the year.
  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted and down 0.3 pps over the year (from 5.7%).
  • The latest NI unemployment rate (5.4%) was above the UK average of 4.6% however, it was below the European Union (8.0%) rate and Republic of Ireland (6.4%) rate for March 2017.

NI claimant count continues to fall

  • The more recent seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 31,200 (3.5% of the workforce) in May 2017, representing a decrease of 300 from the previous month’s revised figure.

Confirmed redundancies decreased over the year

  • There were 93 confirmed redundancies in May 2017. Over the last year to 31st May 2017 there has been a 22% decrease in the number of confirmed redundancies: from 3,205 in the previous year to 2,493.

Quarterly Employee Jobs

  • Private sector jobs are now at a series high having increased over both the quarter (by 0.3% or 1,440 jobs) and year (2% or 12,170 jobs). This is 6% higher (30,320 jobs) than the number of jobs recorded at the pre-downturn peak (Q3 2009). However, Public sector jobs now stand at 10% below the series peak in Q2 2008.
  • The total number of employee jobs fell over the quarter (-600 jobs) to 745,580, although the March 2017 figure represents an increase of 9,850 jobs on the previous year’s total. Over the longer term annualised total jobs growth has fallen from 2.2% in 2014/15 to 1.7% over the most recent four quarters.

Services and Production Sector Output

  • Output in the services sector increased in real terms (by 0.5%) over the first quarter to the highest point since Q3 2008, although it remains nearly 5% lower than the NI series high (Q4 2006). Growth over the year (3.1%) in the sector was higher than UK growth of 2.5% over the equivalent period (Q1 2016 to Q1 2017). However, the NI series remains at around 3% below the UK index in Q1.
  • Although Production output in NI fell in the first quarter of 2017 (by 0.2%), this was from a series high recorded in the previous quarter. Compared to the same period one year earlier, the NI index grew by 2.1% to Quarter 1 2017. Growth in the UK production sector was higher than in NI both over the quarter (0.1%) and year (2.3%).

Commentary

  • The latest official statistics reflect a continuation of recent trends in terms of steady or falling unemployment, growth in private sector employee jobs and increasing output. At 5.4%, the unemployment rate for the most recent quarter is the lowest rate since August – October 2008 and continues the gradual decline in the unemployment rate recorded over recent years (from 7.2% in 2013/14 to 5.6% in 2016/17). This is also reflected in the claimant count series, which has fallen by 33,500 since its most recent peak in February 2013.
  • However, the falling unemployment rate has also been accompanied by a fall in the (LFS) employment rate and an increase in economic inactivity, which is less welcome.
  • The falling (LFS) employment rate is also reflected in the quarterly decrease in the total number of employee jobs (covering both public and private sector). Private sector employee jobs have grown over both the quarter and year, which is now at a series high (545,560 jobs). However there is some evidence that the annual growth in private sector jobs is slowing (from 19,250 over the year to June 2016 to 12,170 over the year to March 2017).
  • The growth in private sector jobs is also reflected in continuing growth over the year in private sector output. The slight quarterly fall in Production sector output was from a series high in the previous quarter and Service sector output is at its highest since Q3 2008. Growth over the year was broadly based across all sectors, with Transport and Communication faring particularly well.
  • Over the longer term NI’s manufacturing sector recovery is keeping pace with that of the UK, while the Service sector continues to lag behind.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. It includes figures from the Labour Force Survey, the claimant count (people claiming unemployment related benefits), the Quarterly Employment Survey of employers and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings as well as official redundancy data.
  2. The NI claimant count measure of unemployment is based on people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) from Jobs and Benefits Office Administrative Systems. From 17 June 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) replaced the claimant count based on JSA for Great Britain (GB) with an experimental claimant count based on JSA claimants and a measure of out-of-work claimants of Universal Credit (UC). For more information please refer to the Further Information section of the Labour Market Report (Page 28).
  3. The official measure of unemployment is the Labour Force Survey. This measure of unemployment relates to people without a job who were available for work and had either looked for work in the last four weeks or were waiting to start a job. This is the International Labour Organisation definition. Labour Force Survey estimates are subject to sampling error. This means that the exact figure is likely to be contained in a range surrounding the estimate quoted. For example, the number of unemployed persons is likely to fall within 1.1% of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 4.1% and 6.4%).
  4. Employee jobs figures are taken from the Quarterly Employment Survey a survey of public sector organisations and private sector firms.
  5. This report will be of interest to Ministers, policy makers, public bodies, the business community, banks, economic commentators, academics and the general public with an interest in the local economy.
  6. The detailed statistical bulletin is available on the NISRA website
  7. Further information and tables from each of the data sources are available on the DfE website.
  8. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.
  9. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Andrew Mawhinney, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), andrew.mawhinney@finance-ni.gov.uk or Tel: 028 9052 9668.
  10. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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