Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 17 April 2018

The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency have published the latest labour market statistics.

Labour Force Survey (LFS) unemployment falls over the quarter and the year

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted and 1.8 pps over the year (from 5.2%). The annual rate change was statistically significant, i.e. the recorded changes exceeded the variability expected from a sample survey of this size and would, therefore, likely reflect a real change.
  • The latest NI unemployment rate (3.5%) was below the UK average of 4.2% and was the second lowest unemployment rate of the UK regions. Additionally, it was below the European Union (7.3%) rate and Republic of Ireland (6.1%) rate for January 2018

LFS employment rate and inactivity rate increase over the year

  • There was an increase (0.5 pps) in the employment rate (69.5%) over the quarter and over the year (0.8pps).The change in the employment rate was not statistically significant over the quarter or the year. However in the longer term there is a statistically significant increase since the employment rates estimated in 2010.
  • The economic inactivity rate (27.9%) decreased over the quarter by 0.3 pps and increased by 0.5 pps over the year. Although neither change was statistically significant the December - February 2018 rate is statistically significantly lower than the 2009 rates.

NI Claimant Count (Experimental Series)

  • From last month the claimant count figures include Jobseeker’s Allowance Claimants and those claimants of Universal Credit who were claiming it principally for the reason of being unemployed. Universal Credit was introduced in NI in September 2017 replacing income-based Jobseekers Allowance for new claimants. The new measure is an experimental statistic as it is still in the development phase. On the March claimant count reference date Universal Credit was available in 12 out of 35 Job Centres in NI.
  • In March 2018, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count (which includes some out-of-work claimants of Universal Credit) was 28,700 (3.1% of the workforce). This represents a decrease of 100 from the previous month’s revised figure

Confirmed redundancies decreased over the year

  • There were 227 confirmed redundancies in March 2018.


  • The unemployment rate fell over the year and the quarter to 3.5% which is the lowest value recorded in this quarterly series and statistically significantly below rates recorded in early 2017. This is the second consecutive quarter where the unemployment rate was estimated below 4.0%, as well as below the UK average, and follows a period of generally decreasing unemployment rates seen over the last 5 years. The claimant count (experimental) decreased over the month and the year and has more than halved in the last 5 years.
  • The employment rate increased over the year and the quarter to 69.5%; one of the highest rates in the series and statistically significantly above rates seen five years ago.
  • The economic inactivity rate decreased over the quarter and increased over the year. Although one of the highest rates recorded since 2010, the current inactivity rate is statistically significantly below peak rates recorded in mid-2009.
  • These estimates should be considered within the context of the results for the whole of the UK which is reporting unemployment rates at their lowest and employment rates at their highest on record. However, in contrast to NI, the UK is reporting its joint lowest UK economic inactivity rate.

Upcoming Releases

  • The next Labour Market Report will be published on 15th May. This is in line with the change in publication dates announced by the Office for National Statistics.


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. From March 2018 the NI claimant count figures include Jobseeker’s Allowance Claimants and those claimants of Universal Credit who were claiming it principally for the reason of being unemployed. This is experimental and is calculated on the same basis as the GB Claimant Count.  For more information please refer to the Further Information section of the Labour Market Report.
  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 0.9% of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 2.2% and 4.1%).
  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. This detailed statistical bulletin and other information and tables is available from the NISRA Website
  7. 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 974 383 and your call will be returned.
  8. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Carly Gordon,
Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), or Tel: 028 9025 5172.

Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA


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