Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 11 July 2023

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

Labour Market Statistics
Labour Market Statistics

Key points

Payrolled employees decreased and monthly earnings increased over the month

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in June 2023 was 788,400, a 0.2% decrease over the month and a 1.6% increase over the year.
  • Earnings data from HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £2,099 in June 2023, an increase of £17 (0.8%) over the month and an increase of £143 (7.3%) over the year.
  • When considering the annual change in employees by age, the percentage change increased as the age groups increased.

Claimant Count Rate remains relatively constant over previous year

  • In June 2023, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 36,700 (3.8% of the workforce), an increase of 2.0% from the previous month’s revised figure.  The June 2023 claimant count remains 22.8% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

Proposed redundancies double over the year

  • NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 210 redundancies occurred in June 2023.  Over the year July 2022 to June 2023, 1,340 redundancies were confirmed, 4.5% less than in the previous 12 months. 
  • There were 1,960 proposed redundancies in June 2023, taking the annual total to 4,150, almost double the previous year (2,080).

Labour Force Survey employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity rates remain relatively steady

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people aged 16 and over who were unemployed) for the period March-May 2023 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.5%.  This was an increase of 0.1 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and a decrease of 0.1pps over the year.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) was unchanged over the quarter and increased by 1.9pps over the year to 72.0%.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI was estimated at 28.6 million hours, an increase of 3.0% on the previous quarter, and an increase of 2.4% on the equivalent period last 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 0.1pps over the quarter and by 1.9pps over the year to 26.1%.


  • The latest labour market release generally shows improvements over the year with payrolled employee numbers and earnings having both increased and the unemployment rate for March-May 2023 at parity with the pre-pandemic position. The economic inactivity rate is 0.5 percentage points (pps) above the pre-pandemic rate, the employment rate is 0.5pps below the pre-pandemic position, and hours worked are 0.3% below the pre-pandemic level.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data shows that payrolled employee numbers decreased by 0.2% over the month but increased by 1.6% over the year.  Payrolled earnings increased by 0.8% over the month and were 7.3% higher than June 2022.
  • Households reported, via the Labour Force Survey (LFS), a 1.9pps increase in the employment rate over the year to March-May 2023, to 72.0%, and a slight decrease of 0.1pps in the unemployment rate over the year, to 2.5%. The economic inactivity rate also decreased over the year to March-May 2023, by 1.9pps, to 26.1%. Caution is advised when interpreting these results however as none of the annual changes were statistically significant. At March-May 2023, the employment rate sat 0.5pps below the pre-pandemic position recorded in December-February 2020, while the economic inactivity rate was 0.5pps above the pre-pandemic position. The unemployment rate for March-May 2023 of 2.5% is equal to the pre-pandemic rate recorded in December-February 2020.
  • The total number of hours worked in March-May 2023 increased by 2.4% over the year. This is 0.3% below the pre-pandemic position recorded in December-February 2020.
  • In contrast to these positive results however, the Department was notified of 1,960 proposed redundancies in June 2023-the highest monthly proposed total reported since June 2020 and the third highest in the time series. This month’s proposed redundancies take the latest rolling twelve-month total to 4,150, which is the highest rolling twelve-month total since September 2021 and is almost double the figure for the previous year (2,080).
  • The Department was also notified that 210 redundancies had taken place in June 2023. This brought the rolling twelve-month total of confirmed redundancies to 1,340-the fourth monthly increase in a row and the highest annual total since June 2022, although this figure is still well below the long term trend.
  • Lastly, the claimant count estimate increased, by 2.0%, over the month to June 2023 from the revised figure for May 2023. The claimant count rate also increased, to 3.8%, however this is the fifteenth consecutive month that the claimant count rate has been within the range 3.6% to 3.8%.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical report and associated tables are available at:  Labour Market Report July 2023 
  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 March-May 2023 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. December-February 2023). ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period March-May 2023 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (i.e. March-May 2022).  Changes that are found to be significant in a statistical sense (i.e. 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 March-May 2023 should be compared with the estimates for December-February 2023.  This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for February-April 2023, as the March and April 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 0.6pps of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 1.9% and 3.1%).
  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 at: 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 June 2023 are based on around 85% of information and will be subject to revision in the next month’s release when between 98% and 99% 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. The content and format of the Labour Market Report (LMR) and monthly tables changed in September 2022 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 are now all 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 15th August 2023.
  14. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office
  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 @Economy_NI
  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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