Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 26 March 2024

Today’s release updates the Labour Market Report published on Tuesday 12th March to now include Labour Force Survey results. The report also includes the previously published updates from HMRC Real Time Information data, Quarterly Employment Survey data, Claimant Count data and NI redundancy data.

Economic Output Statistics published.
Economic Output Statistics published.

An issue was detected in the ONS’s processing of the weights for the Labour Force Survey (LFS) data for Northern Ireland for the November 2023 to January 2024 period, which was due for publication on 12 March 2024. As a consequence, ONS did not publish regional LFS figures as part of their March 2024 release on the 12th March 2024. ONS aim to publish LFS regional data in their April 2024 release. The UK figures for the November 2023 to January 2024 period may be subject to revision. Further information is available in this statement from ONS.

ONS have investigated and corrected the weighting issue in the LFS data for Northern Ireland for the November 2023 to January 2024 period. The data has been quality assured by NISRA. NISRA’s data collection for the November 2023 to January 2024 period is unaffected: the quality and response rates in the data collections are similar to recent periods. NISRA is continuing to work with ONS to ensure that there is no reoccurrence of the issue.

Accordingly, users are advised that NISRA have published the Northern Ireland LFS results for November 2023 to January 2024 today as planned having previously been announced on Tuesday 19th March 2024.

Labour Force Survey headline measures

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people aged 16 and over who were unemployed) for the period November-January 2024 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.3%. This was an increase of 0.1 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and was unchanged from the same period last year. 
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) increased by 0.5pps over both the quarter and the year to 71.3%.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (27.5 million) decreased by 1.8% over the quarter and by 0.3% 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 0.7pps over the quarter and by 0.5pps over the year to 27.0%.

The following sections were published on the 12th March but remain for context:

Payrolled employees and earnings both increased over the month

Claimant Count Rate remains relatively stable since April 2022

  • In February 2024, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 36,400 (3.8% of the workforce), an increase of 2.1% from the previous month’s revised figure.  The February 2024 claimant count remains 22.0% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

Proposed and Confirmed redundancies considerably higher than the previous year

Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) headline measures

  • Businesses reported that employee jobs decreased over the quarter (-0.6%) and increased over the year (+0.8%) to 817,780 jobs in December 2023.


  • The latest Labour Market release shows that over the year the Labour Force Survey employment and economic inactivity rates have improved, with the unemployment rate remaining unchanged. In addition, both payrolled employee numbers and earnings have increased over the year, while employee jobs decreased in December 2023 following ten consecutive quarterly increases.
  • Households reported, via the Labour Force Survey (LFS), over the year to November-January 2024, a 0.5pps increase in the employment rate, to 71.3%, with a 0.5pps decrease in the economic inactivity rate (to 27%). The unemployment rate has remained at 2.3% over the year to November-January 2024. None of these annual changes were statistically significant.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data shows that payrolled employee numbers increased by 0.1% over the month and by 1.9% over the year. Payrolled earnings increased by 0.4% over the month and were 4.5% higher than February 2023.
  • Businesses reported, via the Quarterly Employment Survey, that employee jobs in NI decreased over the quarter but increased over the year to 817,780 jobs in December 2023. Quarterly increases in employee jobs were seen within the construction industry. Other industries jobs remained stable with only marginal change over the quarter to December 2023. Employee jobs decreased over the quarter within the services and manufacturing industries. There were increases in employee jobs over the year within the construction, services and other industries sectors to December 2023.  Employee jobs within the manufacturing sector decreased marginally over the year.
  • In February 2024, the Department was notified of 60 confirmed redundancies, bringing the rolling twelve-month total of confirmed redundancies to 2,430. This was over two and a half times the figure for the previous year (940). There were also 360 proposed redundancies reported to the Department in February 2024, bringing the annual total of proposed redundancies to 3,920, almost double the figure for the previous year (2,180). Although the rolling twelve-month totals of proposed and confirmed redundancies are considerably higher than the previous year, they are both similar to the levels seen in the decade preceding the pandemic.
  • Finally, there was an increase of 2.1% in the claimant count estimate over the month to February 2024 from the revised figure for January 2024. The claimant count rate at February 2024 was 3.8% - a slight increase from the rate in January 2024 (3.7%) and the twenty third 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:
  2. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households and businesses for their co-operation in agreeing to take part in the surveys and for facilitating the collection of the relevant data.
  3. ‘Over the quarter’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period November-January 2024 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. August-October 2023). ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period November-January 2024 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (i.e. November-January 2023). 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.
  4. Estimates relating to November-January 2024 should be compared with the estimates for August-October 2023. This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for October-December 2023, as the November and December 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 1.7% 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: 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 February 2024 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 scheduled release of the Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on Tuesday 16th April 2024.
  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. 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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