Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 12 December 2023

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

Labour Market Statistics
Labour Market Statistics

Payrolled employees and earnings both decreased over the month

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in November 2023 was 796,400, a 0.1% decrease over the month and a 1.7% increase over the year. 
  • Earnings data from HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £2,064 in November 2023, a decrease of £38 (1.8%) over the month and an increase of £46 (2.3%) over the year.  In comparison, earnings in the UK increased by £27 (1.2%) over the month and £117 (5.3%) over the year. NI earnings are now 11% below UK earnings, the largest difference on record.

Claimant Count Rate remains relatively stable since April 2022

  • In November 2023, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 36,600 (3.8% of the workforce), a decrease of 0.3% from the previous month’s revised figure.  The November 2023 claimant count remains 22.5% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

Proposed and Confirmed redundancies approximately three times the totals for previous year

  • NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 410 redundancies occurred in November 2023.  Over the year December 2022 to November 2023, 2,590 redundancies were confirmed, over three times more than the previous year (850). 
  • There were 390 proposed redundancies in November 2023, taking the annual total to 4,200, approximately three times the figure for the previous 12 months (1,490).

Labour Force Survey employment and unemployment rates show statistically significant changes over the quarter

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people age 16 and over who were unemployed) for the period August-October 2023 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.1%.  This was a decrease of 0.6 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and 0.6pps from the same period last year.  The quarterly change was statistically significant.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) increased by 1.7pps over the quarter and by 1.5pps over the year to 72.8%.  The quarterly change was statistically significant.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (28.7 million) increased by 3.5% over the quarter and by 3.7% 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 1.1pps over the quarter and by 0.9pps over the year to 25.8%.

Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) headline measures

  • Businesses reported that employee jobs increased over the quarter (0.9%) and over the year (2.4%) to 822,870 jobs in September 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 to a new series high. In addition, the Labour Force Survey employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity rates have all moved in a favourable direction when compared to one year ago.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data shows that payrolled employee numbers decreased by 0.1% over the month and increased by 1.7% over the year. Payrolled earnings decreased by 1.8% over the month and were 2.3% higher than November 2022.
  • Businesses reported, via the Quarterly Employment Survey, that employee jobs in NI increased over both the quarter and the year to a new series high of 822,870 jobs in September 2023. Quarterly increases in employee jobs were seen within the manufacturing, construction and services sectors to September 2023. Employee jobs within the other industries sector decreased over the quarter to September 2023. There were increases in employee jobs over the year within the manufacturing, other industries and services sectors to September 2023. Employee jobs within the construction sector decreased over the year to September 2023.
  • Households reported, via the Labour Force Survey (LFS), a 1.5pps increase in the employment rate over the year to August-October 2023, to 72.8%, while there were decreases over the year to August-October 2023 in both the economic inactivity rate (by 0.9pps to 25.8%) and the unemployment rate (by 0.6pps to 2.1%). None of these annual changes were statistically significant. August-October 2023 is the first time the unemployment, employment and inactivity rates have all returned to pre-pandemic levels recorded in November-January 2020.
  • The total number of hours worked in August-October 2023 increased by 3.7% over the year, to 28.7 million hours per week. This is just under the pre-pandemic position recorded in November-January 2020 (by 0.4%).
  • In addition, the Department was notified of 410 confirmed redundancies in November 2023, which brought the rolling twelve-month total of confirmed redundancies to 2,590. This was just over three times the figure for the previous year (850) and is the highest rolling twelve-month total since December 2021. There were also 390 proposed redundancies notified to the Department in November 2023, bringing the total over the year December 2022 to November 2023 to 4,200. This is the highest rolling twelve-month total since September 2021. Both the rolling twelve-month totals of proposed and confirmed redundancies are similar to the levels seen in the decade preceding the pandemic.
  • Finally, there was a small decrease of 0.3% in the claimant count estimate over the month to November 2023 from the revised figure for October 2023. The claimant count rate at November 2023 was 3.8% - the fifth consecutive month that the claimant count rate has been at this percentage and the twentieth consecutive month that this rate has been within the range 3.6% to 3.8%.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical report and associated tables are available at:

  1. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating businesses and households for taking part in the Labour Force Survey.
  2. ‘Over the quarter’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period August-October 2023 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. May-July 2023).  ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period August-October 2023 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (i.e. August-October 2022).  Changes that are 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) are specifically highlighted.
  3. Estimates relating to August-October 2023 should be compared with the estimates for May-July 2023.  This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for July-September 2023, as the August and September data are included within both estimates.
  4. 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 1.6% and 2.7%).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:  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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 November 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.  
  10. 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.
  11. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on Tuesday 16th January 2024.
  12. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at
  13. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:
    1. X / Twitter – @Economy_NI
    2. Facebook – @DeptEconomyNI
    3. Instagram – economy_ni
    4. LinkedIn – Department for the Economy NI 
  14. 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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