Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 10 September 2019

The labour market statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

Labour Market and Economic Output Statistics
Labour Market and Economic Output Statistics

Key Points

Unemployment rate decreased to a record low

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period May-July 2019 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.8 per cent, a record low. The unemployment rate decreased over the quarter by 0.3 percentage points (pps) and decreased by 0.9pps over the year. Neither the annual nor quarterly change were statistically significant, i.e. the recorded changes did not exceed the variability expected from a sample survey of this size. However, the unemployment rate was significantly below rates in mid-2017.
  • The NI unemployment rate (2.8 per cent) was below the UK rate (3.8 per cent), the European Union (6.3 per cent) rate for June 2019 and the Republic of Ireland (4.6 per cent) rate for July 2019.
  • Just over a third (34.1 per cent) of those unemployed in NI were long-term unemployed (ie unemployed for one year or more), compared to 25 per cent in the UK. This is a 25pps drop from the proportion who were unemployed long-term at the same point last year, less than half in terms of numbers.

Employment rate increased and economic inactivity rate decreased

  • The employment rate (72 per cent) increased over the quarter by 0.7pps and over the year by 2.0pps to the second highest on record. Neither the annual nor quarterly change were statistically significant, ie the recorded changes did not exceed the variability expected from a sample survey of this size. However, the employment rate was significantly above rates in mid-2018.
  • The economic inactivity rate (25.8 per cent) decreased over the quarter by 0.5pps and over the year by 1.3pps to one of the lowest rates on record. The annual change was not statistically significant, ie the recorded changes did not exceed the variability expected from a sample survey of this size. However, the economic inactivity rate was significantly below rates in late-2017.
  • Put into the context of the UK, NI has the second lowest employment rate of UK regions and the highest economic inactivity rate of all UK regions.

Confirmed redundancies decreased over the year

  • The number of confirmed redundancies (1,777) in the most recent 12 months was 38 per cent lower than in the previous 12 months (2,881). NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 121 redundancies took place in August 2019.
  • A total of 331 redundancies were proposed in August 2019, an increase on the previous monthly total of 90.
  • It should be noted that the confirmed total provides a better indication of real job losses than the proposed total. The confirmed figures provided are likely to be an underestimate of total job losses, as under the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (Amended 8 October 2006) companies are only legally required to notify the Department of impending redundancies of 20 or more employees. Companies who propose less than 20 redundancies are not included in the statistics.

Private sector jobs increased to their highest level on record

  • Estimates from the Quarterly Employment Survey June 2019 indicate that private sector jobs increased over the quarter and year to the highest level on record (569,510). Public sector jobs also increased over the quarter and the year. The number of public sector jobs is estimated at 209,680 and is 8 per cent below its highest level in September 2009.
  • The total number of employee jobs increased over the quarter (1,380 jobs) and over the year (14,020 jobs) to 778,890; the highest number of jobs on record (in the seasonally adjusted series). The annual change in employee jobs was statistically significant ie the recorded change exceeded the variability expected from a survey of this size and was likely to reflect real change.
  •  All four broad industry sectors showed an increase over the year. The services sector, which accounts for 81 per cent of jobs in NI, accounted for the majority of the annual growth (73 per cent). This is consistent with trends since recovery began in 2012.

Commentary

  • Businesses and households continue to report improvements in the labour market, with the unemployment rate estimated at the lowest on record, the employment rate at the second highest on record and employee jobs at a record high.
  • Businesses reported via the Quarterly Employment Survey that employee jobs increased over the quarter and year to a record high of 778,890 jobs. This continues a period of quarter on quarter growth from December 2015. Although increases were seen in all broad industry sectors over the year, the services sector continues to account for the majority of growth. 
  • The Labour Force Survey shows that the employment rate increased over the quarter and the year to the second highest on record (72 per cent) while the unemployment rate decreased to a record low of 2.8 per cent and inactivity decreased to 25.8 per cent.
  • The improvements in the labour market have extended to the long term unemployed and the economically inactive.The number of people aged 16 and over who have been unemployed for one year or more is approximately half the level estimated this time last year, while the number of economically inactive has decreased by 15,000 over the same period.
  • The continued improvements in the NI labour market are consistent with the UK experience, where employment is joint highest on record, unemployment is joint lowest on record and inactivity is the one of the lowest on record. It is worth noting, while the NI unemployment rate is the second lowest of all the UK regions, NI has the second lowest employment rate and highest inactivity rate.

Notes to editors: 

1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available on the NISRA website

2. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households for taking part in the Labour Force Survey.  

3. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. This month’s report includes figures from the Labour Force Survey, official redundancy data and vacancy statistics.

4. The official measure of unemployment is from 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 unemployment rate is likely to fall within 0.6% of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 2.2% and 3.5 per cent).

5. Redundancies are provided by companies under the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (Amended 8 October 2006) whereby they are legally required to notify the Department of (a) redundancies proposed and (b) redundancies confirmed. ) Companies are legally required to notify the Department of impending redundancies of 20 or more employees. Companies who propose fewer than 20 redundancies are not included in the statistics. As a result, the figures provided are likely to be an underestimate of total job losses, however, it is not possible to quantify the extent of the shortfall.

6. The experimental Claimant Count data are no longer included in the Labour Market Report.  Experimental Claimant Count data are published on NISRA and NOMIS

7. The Labour Market Report will be of interest to policy makers, public bodies, the business community, banks, economic commentators, academics and the general public with an interest in the local economy.

8. For media enquiries please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

9. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Carly Gordon,
Economic and Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),
carly.gordon@nisra.gov.uk
or Tel: 028 9025 5172

10. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA  and Department for the Economy @Economy_NI

Share this page

Back to top