Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 18 February 2020

The labour market statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

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

NI unemployment rate decreased over the quarter and year

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people aged 16+ who were unemployed) for the period October-December 2019 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.4 per cent. The unemployment rate decreased over the quarter by 0.1 percentage points (pps) and decreased by 1.4pps over the year. The annual change in the unemployment rate was statistically significant, i.e. the recorded change exceeded the variability expected from a sample survey of this size and was likely to reflect real change.
  • The NI unemployment rate (2.4 per cent) was below the UK rate (3.8 per cent), the European Union (28) rate (6.3 per cent) for November 2019 and the Republic of Ireland rate (4.8 per cent) for December 2019.

Employment rate increased over the quarter and year

  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) increased over the quarter by 0.1pps and increased over the year by 2.0pps to 72.4 per cent. Although recent changes were not statistically significant, the employment rate was significantly above rates in late 2018.

Economic inactivity was unchanged over the quarter and decreased over the year

  • The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who were not working and not seeking or available to work) was unchanged over the quarter and decreased over the year by 1.0pps to 25.8 per cent. Although recent changes were not statistically significant, the economic inactivity rate was significantly below rates in early 2018.

Confirmed redundancies increased over the year

  • The number of confirmed redundancies (3,041) in the most recent 12 months was 18 per cent higher than in the previous 12 months (2,578). NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 57 redundancies took place in January 2020.
  • A total of 424 redundancies were proposed in January 2020, an increase on the previous month’s total of 50.

Commentary

  • Estimates from the Labour Force Survey indicate that, consistent with trends since 2017, the employment rate increased over the year, while the unemployment and economic inactivity rates decreased over the year. The employment rate (72.4 per cent) was one of the highest on record while the economic inactivity (25.8 per cent) and unemployment (2.4 per cent) rates were some of the lowest rates on record.
  • The continued improvements in the NI labour market from 2017 are in keeping with the UK experience, where employment was the highest on record, unemployment was joint lowest on record and economic inactivity was the lowest on record. It is worth noting, while the NI unemployment rate was the lowest of all the UK regions, NI had the second lowest employment rate and highest inactivity rate.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available on the Labour Force Survey page of the NISRA website.
  1. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households for taking part in the Labour Force Survey.  
  1. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. This month’s report includes updated figures from the Labour Force Survey, official redundancy data and vacancies data from DfC.
  1. 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 per cent of the quoted estimate (ie between 1.8 per cent and 2.9 per cent).
  1. October-December Labour Force Survey figures for Northern Ireland and the UK are compared to November data for the EU 28. January-March Labour Force Survey figures for Northern Ireland and the UK will be compared to February data for the EU 27.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on 17 March 2020.
  1. 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.
  1. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Sarah Fyffe,

Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),

sarah.fyffe@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 905 29449.

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