Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 24 October 2023

Today's release updates the Labour Market Report published on Tuesday 17th October which contained HMRC Real Time Information data and redundancy data only to now include Labour Force Survey and Claimant Count results.

Labour Market Statistics
Labour Market Statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has taken the decision to not publish the unadjusted June to August 2023 LFS data today, explaining the reason for their decision in this statement. Instead, the ONS will publish a new series using additional data sources to produce adjusted levels and rates for employment, unemployment and inactivity for the latest two 3-monthly periods (May to July 2023 and June to August 2023) at a UK level only.

Response rates to the Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey (LFS) continue to be robust and NISRA considers that the survey in Northern Ireland continues to provide the best possible indicators for the local labour market. Accordingly, NISRA published the Northern Ireland LFS results for June to August 2023 today as planned and previously announced on Friday 13th October.

Key results

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 June-August 2023 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.3%. This was a decrease of 0.2 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and a decrease of 0.7pps over the year.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) was unchanged over the quarter and increased by 2.1pps over the year to 72.0%.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (27.7 million) decreased by 3.1% over the quarter and increased by 3.9% 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 0.3pps over the quarter and decreased by 1.4pps over the year to 26.4%.

Claimant Count Rate remains relatively constant over previous year

  • In September 2023, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 37,800 (3.9% of the workforce), an increase of 3.1% from the previous month’s revised figure.  The September 2023 claimant count remains 26.5% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

For context, the Labour Market release will also contain the key estimates of HMRC PAYE and redundancy statistics that were released on the 17th October, listed below.

Payrolled employees increase over the month, while monthly earnings remain unchanged

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in September 2023 was 793,700, a 0.3% increase over the month and a 1.7% increase over the year.
  • When considering employees by age, the 25-34 age group is the only group yet to return to pre-COVID levels, remaining 0.3% below March 2020 numbers.
  • Earnings data from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £2,097 in September 2023, unchanged over the month and an increase of £132 (6.7%) over the year. 

Proposed redundancies over three times the total for previous year


The latest Labour Market release shows that over the year both payrolled employee numbers and earnings have increased. In addition, the Labour Force Survey employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity rates have all shown little change when compared to one year ago.

The latest HMRC payroll data shows that payrolled employee numbers increased by 0.3% over the month and increased by 1.7% over the year. Payrolled earnings remain unchanged over the month and were 6.7% higher than September 2022.

Households reported, via the Labour Force Survey (LFS), a 2.1pps increase in the employment rate over the year to June-August 2023, to 72.0%, while there were decreases over the year to June-August 2023 in both the economic inactivity rate (by 1.4pps to 26.4%) and the unemployment rate (by 0.7pps to 2.3%). The unemployment rate of 2.3% for June-August 2023 is equal to the series low point recorded in September-November 2019. Caution is advised when interpreting these results however as none of the annual changes were statistically significant. At June-August 2023, the unemployment rate was 0.2pps below the pre-pandemic rate recorded in December-February 2020, while the employment rate for June-August 2023 was 0.5pps below the pre-pandemic position. The economic inactivity rate was 0.8pps above the pre-pandemic position recorded in December-February 2020.

The total number of hours worked in June-August 2023 increased by 3.9% over the year, to 27.7 million hours per week. This is 3.3% below the pre-pandemic position recorded in December-February 2020.

There was an increase of 3.1% in the claimant count estimate over the month to September 2023 from the revised figure for August 2023. The claimant count rate also increased, to 3.9%, over the month to September 2023. This is the first month that the claimant count rate has been above 3.8% since March 2022. This increase has been driven by an increase in female claimants over the last twelve months, by 18.9%, compared to a decrease in male claimants, by 1.5%, in this time period.

Finally, the Department was notified of 420 confirmed redundancies in September 2023, which brought the rolling twelve-month total of confirmed redundancies to 1,810. This is the seventh consecutive month that this total has been over 1,000, and equals the highest total recorded since March 2022, although this figure is still well below the long term trend. There were also 170 proposed redundancies notified to the Department in September 2023, bringing the annual total covering October 2022 to September 2023 to 4,390. This is the second-highest rolling twelve-month total since August 2021 and is similar to pre-pandemic levels.

Notes to editors: 

Notes to editors:

  1. The statistical report and associated tables are available at:Labour Market report - October 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 June-August 2023 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. March-May 2023).  ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period June-August 2023 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (i.e. June-August 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 June-August 2023 should be compared with the estimates for March-May 2023.  This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for May-July 2023, 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 0.6pps of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 1.8% and 2.9%).
  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 three 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 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 14th November 2023.
  13. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at
  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. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:
    1. Twitter – @Economy_NI
    2. Facebook – @DeptEconomyNI
    3. Instagram – economy_ni
    4. LinkedIn – Department for the Economy NI 
  16. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Mark McFetridge,

Economic & Labour Market Statistics (ELMS), or Tel: 028 902 55172.

Share this page

Back to top