Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 14 May 2024

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

Labour Market Statistics
Labour Market Statistics

Payrolled employees decreased over the month

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in April 2024 was 799,600, a 0.3% decrease over the month and a 1.3% increase over the year.
  • Earnings data from HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £2,192 in April 2024, an increase of £23 (1.1%) over the month and £140 (6.8%) over the year. 
  • The estimates from HMRC PAYE for the latest period, are based on early data and, therefore, are more likely to be subject to larger revisions.

Claimant Count rate remains relatively stable since April 2022

  • In April 2024, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 36,200 (3.7% of the workforce), an increase of 0.1% from the previous month’s revised figure.  The April 2024 claimant count remains 21.1% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

Proposed and Confirmed redundancies considerably higher than the previous year

  • NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 80 redundancies occurred in April 2024.  Over the year May 2023 to April 2024, 2,380 redundancies were confirmed, more than double the figure for the previous year (1,160). 
  • There were 140 proposed redundancies in April 2024, taking the annual total to 4,010, which was almost double the previous year (2,090).

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 January-March 2024 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.1%. This was a decrease of 0.4 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and of 0.3pps from the same period last year. 
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) increased by 0.5pps over the quarter and by 1.0pps over the year to 71.8%.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (28.3 million) increased by 2.7% over the quarter and decreased by 0.6% 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 0.2pps over the quarter and by 0.8pps over the year to 26.6%.
  • The latest Labour Market release shows that over the year both payrolled employee numbers and earnings have increased.  In addition, all of the Labour Force Survey headline measures have improved over the year, with the unemployment and economic inactivity rates both decreasing and the employment rate increasing.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data shows that payrolled employee numbers decreased by 0.3% over the month and increased by 1.3% over the year. Payrolled earnings increased by 1.1% over the month and were 6.8% higher than April 2023.
  • Households reported, via the Labour Force Survey (LFS), over the year to January-March 2024, a 1.0pps increase in the employment rate (to 71.8%), a 0.8pps decrease in the economic inactivity rate (to 26.6%) and a 0.3pps decrease in the unemployment rate (to 2.1%). None of these annual changes were statistically significant.
  • The total number of hours worked in January-March 2024 decreased by 0.6% over the year, to 28.3 million hours per week. This is 2.7% below the pre-pandemic position recorded in October-December 2019.
  • In April 2024, the Department was notified of 80 confirmed redundancies, bringing the rolling twelve-month total of confirmed redundancies to 2,380, just over double the figure for the previous year (1,160). There were also 140 proposed redundancies reported to the Department in April 2024, which brought the annual total of proposed redundancies to 4,010, almost double the figure for the previous year (2,090). Although the rolling twelve-month totals of proposed and confirmed redundancies are around double that of the previous year, both are similar to the levels seen in the decade preceding the pandemic.
  • Finally, there was a small increase of 0.1% in the claimant count estimate over the month to April 2024 from the revised figure for March 2024. The claimant count rate for April 2024 was 3.7% - unchanged from the revised rate for March 2024. In addition, with the exception of September 2023 (3.8%), the claimant count rate has remained at 3.7% since March 2023.

Notes to editors: 

1. The statistical report and associated tables are available at the Labour Market Report - May 2024 page of the NISRA website.

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 January-March 2024 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. October-December 2023). ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period January-March 2024 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (i.e. January-March 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 January-March 2024 should be compared with the estimates for October-December 2023. This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for December-February 2024, as the January and February 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 1.6% and 2.8%).

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 at the Redundancies background information page of the NISRA website. 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 April 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 11th June 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:

16. 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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