Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 22 January 2019

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

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Key points

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period September-November 2018 was 3.4 per cent. The unemployment rate decreased by 1.0 percentage point (pps) over the quarter and 0.4 pps over the year. Although the quarterly and annual change was not statistically significant, the decrease from mid-2017 rates was statistically significant, and likely to reflect real change.
  • The NI unemployment rate (3.4 per cent) is below the UK average (4.0 per cent) and is the fourth lowest rate of the UK regions. NI unemployment was lower than the Republic of Ireland (5.3 per cent) and the European Union (6.7 per cent) rates for October 2018.
  • Half (50.3 per cent) of those unemployed in NI were unemployed for one year or more, which is more than double the UK average of 24.9 per cent.

Employment rate and inactivity rate increased over the quarter

  • There was an increase in the employment rate (69.6 per cent) over the quarter (0.4 pps) and over the year (0.6 pps).  These changes were not statistically significant over the quarter or the year but the employment rate is statistically significantly above 2013 rates.          
  • The economic inactivity rate (27.9 per cent) increased over the quarter (0.4pps) and decreased over the year (0.3 pps). The changes over the quarter and the year were not statistically significant, however, the inactivity rate is significantly below rates in 2009.

NI Claimant Count (Experimental Series) was unchanged over the month

  • Universal Credit was introduced in NI in September 2017 replacing income-based Jobseekers Allowance for new claimants. On the December claimant count reference date Universal Credit was available in all 35 Job Centres in NI. 
  • In December 2018, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count (which includes some out-of-work claimants of Universal Credit) was 29,500 (3.2 per cent of the workforce). This is unchanged from the previous month’s revised figure.
  • The claimant count is an experimental statistic as it is still in the development phase. Large revisions are to be expected while the series is experimental and improvements are being made to processes.
  • On 22 January 2019, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published an experimental statistical series which estimated the number of unemployed Universal Credit Claimants based on the assumption that Universal Credit is fully rolled out. This relates to GB claimants only.

Confirmed redundancies increased over the year

  • The number of confirmed redundancies (2,498) in the most recent 12 months is 40 per cent higher than in the previous 12 months.  NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 41 redundancies took place in December 2018. A total of 58 redundancies were proposed between mid-December 2018 and mid-January 2019, a decrease on the previous monthly period total of 515.


  • The Labour Force Survey continues to show low unemployment and high employment and inactivity rates evident since late 2017. The UK as a whole is experiencing its joint lowest unemployment rate and highest employment rate on record, but in contrast to NI the UK inactivity rate is also at its joint lowest on record.
  • When compared to the other UK regions, NI has the fourth lowest unemployment rate and despite recent increases, also the lowest employment rate.  NI continues to have the highest inactivity rate of the regions which is consistent with long term trends. 

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available at the NISRA website.
  2. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. This month’s report includes figures from the Labour Force Survey and official redundancy data.
  3. NI Claimant Count (Experimental Series) includes Jobseeker’s Allowance Claimants and those claimants of Universal Credit who were claiming it principally for the reason of being unemployed.
  4. The claimant count is an experimental statistic as it is still in the development phase. Large revisions are to be expected while the series is experimental and improvements are being made to processes.
  5. 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 number of unemployed persons is likely to fall within 1.0 per cent of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 2.4 per cent and 4.4 per cent).
  6. 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.
  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. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on 19 February 2019.
  9. 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.
  10. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Carly Gordon,
Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),

Tel: 028 9025 5172 or email

  1. Follow ELMS on Twitter at @ELMSNISRA

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