Labour market statistics

Date published: 11 October 2022

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

Survey of Further Education College Leavers
Survey of Further Education College Leavers

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

Key points

Payrolled employees and monthly earnings recorded a decrease over the month

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in September 2022 was 780,800, a 0.1 per cent decrease over the month and a 2.6 per cent increase over the year. This was the first monthly decrease in over a year (since August 2021). 
  • Earnings from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £1,944 in September 2022, a decrease of £31 (1.6 per cent) over the month and an increase of £102 (5.5 per cent) over the year. This was the largest monthly decrease in earnings in over a year.

First monthly increase in the claimant count number since February 2021

  • In September 2022, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 35,900 (3.8 per cent of the workforce), which was an increase of 1.3 per cent from the previous month’s revised figure.  This represents the first monthly increase in the claimant count since February 2021.  The September claimant count remains higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020 (by 20.6 per cent).

Latest twelve-month totals of both proposed and confirmed redundancies remain low

  • NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 150 redundancies occurred in September 2022, taking the annual total to 1,100. 
  • 190 redundancies were proposed in September 2022, following low or no redundancies in July and August.  Over the year October 2021 to September 2022, 1,410 redundancies were proposed.

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 June-August 2022 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 3.0 per cent.  This was an increase of 0.4 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and a decrease of 1.4pps over the year.  The annual change was statistically significant.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) decreased by 0.1pps over the quarter and increased by 0.9pps over the year to 69.9 per cent.  Neither the quarterly nor annual changes were statistically significant.  The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (26.7 million) decreased by 4.5 per cent over the quarter and increased by 1.2 per cent 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) decreased by 0.2pps over the quarter and increased by 0.1pps over the year to 27.8 per cent.  Neither the quarterly nor annual changes were statistically significant.


  • The latest labour market release shows that, whilst the majority of indicators continue to report improvements over the year, some indicators are showing a worsening position over the short-term.
  • Notably all three administrative data sources point to a worsening labour market in the short term with 190 redundancies proposed in September following no or low redundancies over the summer months; the claimant count showing the first substantial increase since February 2021; and HMRC PAYE data showing the first monthly decrease in payrolled earnings, and the largest decrease in monthly earnings, in over a year.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data showed that payrolled employee numbers are now 3.8 per cent above those recorded in March 2020 pre-COVID and 2.6 per cent higher than September 2021. Payroll earnings are now 11.4 per cent above pre-COVID level, however this was the lowest increase of all twelve UK regions.
  • The claimant count estimate increased over the month to September 2022 from the revised estimate for August 2022.  The claimant count rate, however, has remained at 3.8 per cent for the fifth consecutive month.
  • The Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows a statistically significant decrease in the unemployment rate over the year to June-August 2022 to 3.0 per cent.  When compared to pre-pandemic levels in December-February 2020, the total number of hours worked in June-August 2022 was 7.0 per cent below, whilst the employment rate was 2.5pps below.  The economic inactivity rate remains 2.2pps above the pre-pandemic position and the unemployment rate is 0.5pps above the pre-pandemic period.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical report and associated tables are available at :Labour Market report - October 2022
  2. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households for taking part in the Labour Force Survey.
  3. ‘Over the quarter’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period June-August 2022 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. March-May 2022).  ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period June-August 2022 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (i.e. June-August 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.
  4. Estimates relating to June-August 2022 should be compared with the estimates for March-May.  This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for May-July, as the June and July data are included within both estimates.
  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 unemployment rate is likely to fall within 0.7pps of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 2.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 here: Redundancies background information.  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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 September 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.  
  11. Today’s publication of the Labour Market Report (LMR) marks the second release in HTML format. The content and format of the report and monthly tables have changed to make them more user friendly and interactive, enhancing accessibility, and increasing automation in their production.  As the tables have changed, a mapping document has been created showing the relationship between old and new tables. In addition, the LMR, supplementary documents and data tables will all be available on one webpage with links added to individual data source pages directing users to the most recent data.
  12. 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.
  13. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on Tuesday 15 November 2022.
  14. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at:
  15. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  16. Follow us on Twitter.
  17. 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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