Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 11 June 2019

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

Labour Market Statistics

Key points

Unemployment decreased over the quarter and over the year

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period February - April 2019 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 3.1 per cent. The unemployment rate decreased over the quarter by 0.4 percentage points (pps) and decreased by 0.2pps over the year. Neither the annual nor quarterly change were statistically significant, ie the recorded changes did not exceed the variability expected from a sample survey of this size.
  • The NI unemployment rate (3.1 per cent) was below the UK rate (3.8 per cent), the European Union (6.4 per cent) rate for March 2019 and the Republic of Ireland (4.6 per cent) rate for April 2019.
  • Two fifths (40.1 per cent) of those unemployed in NI were long-term unemployed (ie unemployed for one year or more), compared to 27.7 per cent in the UK.

Employment rate joint highest on record; economic inactivity rate decreased over the year

  • The employment rate (71.3 per cent) increased over the quarter by 0.4pps and over the year by 1.5pps. Neither the annual nor quarterly change were statistically significant, ie the recorded changes did not exceed the variability expected from a sample survey of this size.
  • The economic inactivity rate (26.4 per cent) was unchanged over the quarter and decreased over the year by 1.4pps. The annual change was not statistically significant, ie the recorded changes did not exceed the variability expected from a sample survey of this size.

Confirmed redundancies

  • The number of confirmed redundancies (2,501) in the most recent 12 months was 16 per cent higher than in the previous 12 months (2,165). NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 581 redundancies took place in May 2019.
  • A total of 323 redundancies were proposed in May 2019, a decrease on the previous monthly total of 996.

Private sector jobs increased over the quarter and year to their highest level on record

  • Estimates from the Quarterly Employment Survey March 2019 indicate that private sector jobs increased over the quarter and year to the highest level on record (569,460). Public sector jobs also increased over the quarter and the year. The number of public sector jobs was estimated at 208,480 which was 9 per cent below its highest level in September 2009.
  • The total number of employee jobs increased over the quarter (4,010 jobs) and over the year (15,580 jobs) to 778,240; the highest number of jobs on record in the seasonally adjusted series. The annual change in employee jobs was statistically significant ie the recorded change exceeded the variability expected from a survey of this size and was likely to reflect real change.
  • All four broad industry sectors showed an increase over the year (Fig 1.2). The services sector, which accounts for 81 per cent of jobs in NI, accounted for the majority of the annual growth (77 per cent). This is consistent with trends since recovery began in 2012. Within the services sector the greatest increases over the year were within human health and social work activities (eg hospital, dental and nursing care activities); professional, scientific and technical activities (eg accounting and architectural activities); and transportation & storage (e.g. passenger transport and warehousing activities).

Commentary

  • The latest estimates from businesses and households show continued growth in the NI labour market.
  • Businesses reported via the Quarterly Employment Survey that employee jobs increased over the quarter and year to a record high of 778,240 jobs. This continues a period of quarter on quarter growth from December 2015. Although increases were seen in all broad industry sectors over the year, the services sector continues to account for the majority of growth.
  • The Labour Force Survey also shows increases in employment and a relatively strong labour market. The unemployment rate at 3.1 per cent remains below the UK rate, continuing the trend of low unemployment evident since late 2017. The employment rate (71.3 per cent) increased over the quarter and the year to the joint highest on record, while the inactivity rate was unchanged over the quarter and decreased over the year. At 26.4 per cent the inactivity rate is now similar to the relatively low levels seen in 2016.
  • The continued improvements in the NI labour market are consistent with the UK experience, where the number of employee jobs is at a record high, employment is at a joint high, inactivity is one of the lowest on record and unemployment is joint lowest on record. However, it is worth noting, when compared to the other UK regions, NI has the second lowest employment rate and highest inactivity rate.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available from the NISRA website.
  2. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households for their co-operation in agreeing to take part in the Labour Force Survey.  
  3. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. This month’s report includes figures from the Labour Force Survey, official redundancy data, vacancy statistics and the Quarterly Employment Survey.
  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 number of unemployed persons is likely to fall within 0.7 per cent of the quoted estimate (ie between 2.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent).
  5. 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 (a) redundancies proposed and (b) redundancies confirmed.) Companies are legally required to notify the Department of impending redundancies of 20 or more employees. Companies who propose less than 20 redundancies are not included in the statistics. As a result, 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.
  6. The experimental Claimant Count data are no longer included in the Labour Market Report. The data tables will continue to be published on the NISRA website and counts will also be available from the NOMIS website
  7. 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.
  8. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on 16 July 2019.
  9. Employee jobs figures are taken from the Quarterly Employment Survey; a survey of public sector organisations and private sector firms. Headline totals for employee jobs are seasonally adjusted. Estimates for industry sub-sections at 2 digit SIC level are not adjusted for seasonality.
  10. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
  11. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

    Responsible statistician: Carly Gordon,
    Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),
    Email: carly.gordon@nisra.gov.uk or call 028 9025 5172.
     
  12. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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