Labour market statistics

Date published: 12 September 2023

The labour market statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and 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 August 2023 was 791,300, a 0.1% decrease over the month and a 1.5% increase over the year.
  • Earnings data from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £2,094 in August 2023, an increase of £2 (0.1%) over the month and an increase of £119 (6.0%) over the year. 

Claimant Count Rate remains relatively constant over previous year

  • In August 2023, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 36,700 (3.8% of the workforce), an increase of 0.4% from the previous month’s revised figure.  The August 2023 claimant count remains 22.9% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

Proposed redundancies over three and a half times the total for previous year

  • NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 200 redundancies occurred in August 2023.  Over the year September 2022 to August 2023, 1,520 redundancies were confirmed, 40.7% more than in the previous 12 months. 
  • Over the twelve months to August 2023, there were 4,420 proposed redundancies, over three and a half times the total for the previous year (1,220).

Labour Force Survey employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity rates show little change over the year

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people age 16 and over who were unemployed) for the period May-July 2023 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.7%. This was an increase of 0.3 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and a decrease of 0.2pps over the year.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) decreased by 1.3pps over the quarter and increased by 1.5pps over the year to 71.1%.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (27.8 million) decreased by 4.2% over the quarter and increased by 1.5% 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) increased by 1.1pps over the quarter and decreased by 1.3pps over the year to 26.9%.

Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) headline measures

  • Businesses reported that employee jobs decreased over the quarter (-0.2%) and increased over the year (1.7%) to 813,450 jobs in June 2023.  The annual change was statistically significant.


  • The latest labour market release shows that over the year both payrolled employee numbers and earnings have increased, while employee jobs have also increased. In addition, the Labour Force Survey employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity rates have seen little change over the year.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data shows that payrolled employee numbers decreased by 0.1% over the month and increased by 1.5% over the year.  Payrolled earnings increased by 0.1% over the month and were 6.0% higher than August 2022.
  • Businesses reported, via the Quarterly Employment Survey, that employee jobs in NI decreased over the quarter but increased over the year to 813,450 jobs in June 2023. Quarterly increases in employee jobs were seen within the manufacturing, construction and other industries sectors to June 2023, with employee jobs within the services sector decreasing over the quarter. There were increases in employee jobs over the year within the manufacturing, services and other industries sectors to June 2023, with employee jobs within the construction sector decreasing over the year.
  • Households reported, via the Labour Force Survey (LFS), a 1.5pps increase in the employment rate over the year to May-July 2023, to 71.1%, while there were decreases over the year to May-July 2023 in both the economic inactivity rate (by 1.3pps to 26.9%) and the unemployment rate (by 0.2pps to 2.7%). Caution is advised when interpreting these results however as none of the annual changes were statistically significant. At May-July 2023, the economic inactivity rate was 1.0pps above the pre-pandemic position recorded in November-January 2020, while the unemployment rate for May-July 2023 was 0.3pps above the pre-pandemic rate. The employment rate for May-July 2023 sat 1.2pps below the pre-pandemic position recorded in November-January 2020.
  • The total number of hours worked in May-July 2023 increased by 1.5% over the year, to 27.8 million hours per week. This is 3.7% below the pre-pandemic position recorded in November-January 2020.
  • The Department was notified of 200 confirmed redundancies in August 2023, which brought the rolling twelve-month total of confirmed redundancies to 1,520. This is the sixth consecutive month that this total has been over 1,000, and is the highest total since May 2022, although this figure is still well below the long term trend. There have also been 4,420 proposed redundancies notified to the Department over the year September 2022 to August 2023-the highest rolling twelve-month total since August 2021 and over three and a half times the figure for the previous year (1,220).
  • Lastly, there was a small increase in the claimant count estimate, by 0.4%, over the month to August 2023 from the revised figure for July 2023. The claimant count rate remained at 3.8% for the second month running and this is the seventeenth 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 - September 2023
  2. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating businesses and households for taking part in the Labour Force Survey.
  3. ‘Over the quarter’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period May-July 2023 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. February-April 2023).  ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period May-July 2023 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (i.e. May-July 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 May-July 2023 should be compared with the estimates for February-April 2023.  This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for April-June 2023, as the May and June 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 2.1% and 3.3%).
  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:  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 August 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 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.
  12. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on Tuesday 17 October 2023.
  13. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:
    Twitter – @Economy_NI
    Facebook – @DeptEconomyNI
    Instagram – economy_ni
    LinkedIn – Department for the Economy NI

  14. 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.

  15. 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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