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

Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey – Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)
Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey – Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)

Key Points

Labour Force Survey (LFS) unemployment was unchanged over the quarter and decreased over the year

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period October-December 2018 was 3.8 per cent. The unemployment rate did not change over the quarter and decreased by 0.3 percentage points (pps) over the year. Although the quarterly and annual changes were not statistically significant, the decrease in the unemployment rate from the mid-2017 unemployment rates is statistically significant, and likely to reflect real change.
  • The NI unemployment rate (3.8 per cent) is below the UK average (4.0 per cent) and is the fifth 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 November 2018.
  • Under half (46.1 per cent) of those unemployed in NI were unemployed for one year or more, which is above the UK average of 26.1 per cent.

Employment rate increased and inactivity rate decreased over the quarter

  • There was an increase in the employment rate (70.3 per cent) over the quarter (0.9 pps) and over the year (1.7 pps).  These changes were not statistically significant over the quarter or the year but the employment rate is statistically significantly above 2015 rates.
  • The economic inactivity rate (26.8 per cent) decreased over the quarter (0.9pps) and over the year (1.6 pps). The changes over the quarter and the year were not statistically significant, however, the inactivity rate is significantly below rates in 2010.

Confirmed redundancies increased over the year

  • The number of confirmed redundancies (2,575) in the most recent 12 months is 50 per cent higher than in the previous 12 months. NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 209 redundancies took place in January 2019. A total of 42 redundancies were proposed between mid-January 2019 and mid-February 2019, a decrease on the previous monthly period total of 58.


  • The Labour Force Survey continues to show low unemployment evident since late 2017. The employment rate is the highest on record and continues the trend of increasing employment from 2017, while the quarterly and annual falls in inactivity are consistent with a trend of decreasing inactivity from 2017. Although the unemployment and employment rates are at notably low and high levels respectively, at 26.8 per cent the inactivity rate is broadly average when compared to rates over the past 5 years.
  • When compared to the other UK regions, NI has the fifth lowest unemployment rate, the lowest employment rate and highest inactivity rate. The UK as a whole is experiencing its joint lowest unemployment rate, its lowest inactivity rate and joint highest employment rate on record.

Notes to editors: 

Notes to editors:

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available at: Labour Market Report
  1. 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.
  1. 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. 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. From March 2019 the experimental Claimant Count data will no longer be included in the Labour Market Report.  The data tables will continue to be published on the NISRA website and counts will also be available from NOMIS.
  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 number of unemployed persons is likely to fall within 0.8 per cent of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 2.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent).
  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.
  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 19 March 2019.
  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 and your call will be returned.
  1. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Carly Gordon, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), or Tel: 028 9025 5172.
  1. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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