Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 14 June 2022

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

Labour market statistics published
Labour market statistics published

Key points

Payrolled employees now higher than pre-COVID for the twelfth consecutive month

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in May 2022 was 779,100, an increase of 0.4 per cent over the month and 4.2 per cent over the year.  This is the highest on record and the twelfth consecutive month that employee numbers have been above pre-COVID levels. 
  • Earnings from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £1,925 in May 2022, a decrease of £15 (0.8 per cent) over the month and an increase of £120 (6.6 per cent) over the year. 

Lowest NI Claimant Count (Experimental Series) total since March 2020

  • In May 2022, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 36,300 (3.8 per cent of the workforce), which is a decrease of 300 (0.9 per cent) from the previous month’s revised figure.  The April claimant count remains higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020 (by 22 per cent).

Decrease in annual proposed and confirmed redundancy trends continue

  • NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 90 redundancies occurred in May 2022.  At 1,620, the annual total was 73 per cent less than in the previous year.  Over the year June 2021 to May 2022, 2,110 redundancies were proposed, 77 per cent less than in the previous 12 months.

Labour Force Survey (LFS) headline measures

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people aged 16 and over who were unemployed) for the period February-April 2022 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.6 per cent.  This was a decrease of 0.6 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and of 1.0pps over the year from the revised estimates.  Neither the quarterly nor annual changes were statistically significant.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) increased by 1.5pps over the quarter and by 1.8pps over the year from the revised estimates, to 70.2 per cent.  The quarterly change was statistically significant.  The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (27.9 million) increased by 6.6 per cent over the quarter and by 9.7 per cent over the year from the revised estimates.
  • The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who were not working and not seeking or available to work) decreased by 1.1pps over the quarter and by 1.2pps over the year from the revised estimates, to 27.8 per cent.  Neither the quarterly nor annual changes were statistically significant.

Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) headline measures

  • Businesses reported that employee jobs in NI increased over both the quarter (1.5 per cent or 11,470 jobs) and the year (3.3 per cent or 25,700 jobs) to 794,880 jobs in March 2022 to reach a series high. 
  • Private sector jobs reached a series high in March 2022.  Private sector jobs increased over both the quarter (1.7 per cent or 9,540 jobs) and the year (3.5 per cent or 19,540 jobs).  Public sector jobs also increased over the quarter (0.8 per cent or 1,770 jobs) and the year (2.8 per cent or 6,090 jobs). 


  • The latest labour market indicators continue to show that employee measures have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Measures of total employment (e.g. employment rate and hours worked), unemployment and economic inactivity, although showing trends of improvement, have not yet returned to their pre-pandemic position.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data showed the highest level of payrolled employees on record in May, 3.5 per cent above those recorded in March 2020 pre-COVID.  Earnings recorded for May were up by 6.6 per cent over the year and are now 10 per cent above pre-COVID levels.
  • Businesses reported that employee jobs increased over both the quarter and the year to a series high of 794,880 jobs in March 2022.  The increase in employee jobs was largely driven by the services sector.  The number of employee jobs in the services sector, manufacturing sector, and the private sector are now the highest on record.
  • The Labour Force Survey shows a statistically significant increase in the employment rate over the quarter to February-April 2022 to 70.2 per cent (1.5pps).  When comparing to the pre-pandemic levels, the total number of hours worked in February-April 2022 was 3.2 per cent below, whilst the employment rate was 2.1pps below.  The economic inactivity rate remains 1.9pps above the pre-pandemic position and the unemployment rate for February-April 2022 sits 0.2pps above the pre-pandemic figure recorded in November-January 2020.
  • The decreasing trend in the NI Claimant Count continued for May 2022 and is 43 per cent less than the recent peak in May 2020.
  • In May 2022, 90 redundancies were confirmed to the Department which was well below the monthly average for 2021 of 240.  Proposed redundancies over the most recent twelve month period (2,110) were 77 per cent lower than in the previous twelve months.


Notes to editors: 

1. Today’s publication contains the first release of reweighted Labour Force Survey data using updated PAYE Real-Time Information data and with the introduction of the non-response bias adjustment to NI data.  Data have been reweighted from January-March 2020 to January-March 2022 and comparisons to UK regions have been reinstated in the report.  When compared with previously published estimates, the reweighting has generally decreased the NI employment rate and increased the unemployment and economic inactivity rates.  More detail on the scale of the NI revisions is provided in the accompanying document: LFS Revision Note - June 2022 as well as in an ONS article Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators: 2022

2. The statistical report and associated tables are available at the Labour Market Overview page on the NISRA website.

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

4. ‘Over the quarter’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period February-April 2022 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. November-January 2022). ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period February-April 2022 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (ie February-April 2021). Changes that are found to be significant in a statistical sense (ie where the estimated change exceeded the variability expected from a sample survey of this size and was likely to reflect real change) will be specifically highlighted.

5. Estimates relating to February-April 2022 should be compared with the estimates for November-January 2022. This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for January-March 2022, as the February and March data are included within both estimates.

6. 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 0.6pps of the quoted estimate (ie between 2.0 per cent and 3.2 per cent).

7. The claimant count is an administrative data source derived from Jobs and Benefits Offices systems, which records the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits.  In March 2018 the NI claimant count measure changed from one based solely on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) to an experimental measure based on JSA claimants and out-of-work Universal Credit (UC) claimants who were claiming principally for the reason of being unemployed. Those claiming unemployment-related benefits (either UC or JSA) may be wholly unemployed and seeking work, or may be employed but with low income and/or low hours, that make them eligible for unemployment-related benefit support.  Under UC a broader span of claimants became eligible for unemployment-related benefit than under the previous benefit regime.

8. 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 impending redundancies of 20 or more employees. Companies who propose fewer than 20 redundancies are not required to notify the Department, therefore 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. All other things being equal we would expect more redundancies in sectors dominated by large businesses as they are the businesses that meet the 20 or more collective redundancy criteria.

9. To prevent the potential identification of individual businesses, redundancy totals relating to fewer than 3 businesses are not disclosed. The Statistical Disclosure Control Policy is available at the  Redundancies background information page on the NISRA website. Where the number of businesses does not meet the threshold for release (as detailed in the Statistical Disclosure Control Policy), individual monthly totals are not published.

10. HMRC’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) system is an administrative data source. The PAYE RTI system is the system employers use to take Income Tax and National Insurance contributions before they pay wages to employees. These data relate to employees paid by employers only, and do not include self-employment income.

11. Estimates of the number of paid employees and employee earnings from PAYE are classed as experimental statistics as they are still in their development phase. As a result the data are subject to revisions. Early estimates (flash estimates) for May 2022 are based on around 85 per cent of information, and will be subject to revision in the next month’s release when between 98 per cent and 99 per cent of data will be available (main estimates). The size of revisions to main and flash estimates are similar for employees, while revisions to earnings flash estimates are typically larger than main estimate revisions. The HMRC PAYE covers the whole population rather than a sample of employees or companies. Data are based on where employees live and not the location of their place of work within the UK. Data are seasonally adjusted but not adjusted for inflation.  

12. Employee jobs figures are taken from the Quarterly Employment Survey; a survey of public sector organisations and private sector firms. Headline totals for employee jobs are seasonally adjusted. Estimates for industry sub-sections at 2 digit SIC level are not adjusted for seasonality. The QES survey date was 28th February 2022. 

13. A new format of the Labour Market Report (LMR) is currently in development using HTML, which will further improve on accessibility, and the tables attached to the LMR are also being reviewed and improved. We aim to roll these out in the coming months and will keep users informed of a timeline for releasing the new LMR and tables, including an update in the Labour Market Statistics Newsletter released today.

14. 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.

15. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on Tuesday 19th July 2022.

16. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at:

17. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

18. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Mark McFetridge, Economic & Labour Market Statistics (ELMS), or Tel: 028 902 55172.

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