Labour Market Statistics published

Date published: 12 April 2017

The Labour Market Statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

The Labour Market Statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.
The Labour Market Statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

Key points:

Labour Force Survey (LFS) unemployment decreases over quarter

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period December - February 2017 was 5.2%, representing a decrease of 0.4 percentage point (pps) from the previous quarter and of 1.1 pps over the year (from 6.4%).
  • There was a decrease (0.5 pps) in the employment rate (68.8%) over the quarter but no change over the year. The economic inactivity rate (27.3%) increased by 0.8 percentage points over the quarter and 0.9 pps over the year.
  • The latest Northern Ireland unemployment rate (5.2%) was above the UK average of 4.7% however, it was below the European Union (8.1%) rate for January 2017 and Republic of Ireland (6.6%) rate for February 2017.

Northern Ireland claimant count continues to fall

  • The more recent seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 31,500 (3.5% of the workforce) in March 2017, representing a decrease of 300 from the previous month’s revised figure. The number of people leaving the register in the previous 36 month period has slowed from 11,800 in the 12 months to March 2015, to 7,000 in the most recent year to March 2017.

Confirmed redundancies increase

  • There were 139 confirmed redundancies in March 2017. Over the last year to 31st March 2017 here has been a 61% increase in the number of confirmed redundancies: 3,480 compared to 2,161 in the previous year.


  • LFS figures continue to reflect a gradual decline in the unemployment rate over recent years (from 7.5% in 2013/14 to 5.6% in 2016/17). At 5.2%, the unemployment rate for the most recent quarter is the lowest rate since September – November 2008. The declining unemployment rate has been coupled with a gradual increase in the employment rate (from 67.0% in 2013/14 to 69.3% in 2016/17).
  • The Northern Ireland claimant count figure has fallen by 33,200 since its most recent peak in February 2013 and is now less than half of that total. The most recent level remained above the low-point in September 2007 (23,500) and showed a decrease of 300 over the month to March 2017.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. It includes figures from the Labour Force Survey, the claimant count (people claiming unemployment related benefits), the Quarterly Employment Survey of employers and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings as well as official redundancy data.
  2. The Northern Ireland claimant count measure of unemployment is based on people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) from Jobs and Benefits Office Administrative Systems. From 17 June 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) replaced the claimant count based on JSA for Great Britain (GB) with an experimental claimant count based on JSA claimants and a measure of out-of-work claimants of Universal Credit (UC). For more information please refer to the Further Information section of the Labour Market Report (Page 28).
  3. The official measure of unemployment is 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 1.1% of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 4.1% and 6.4%).
  4. This report will be of interest to Ministers, policy makers, public bodies, the business community, banks, economic commentators, academics and the general public with an interest in the local economy.
  5. The detailed statistical bulletin is available at the NISRA website . Further information and tables from each of the data sources are available on the NISRA Website.   
  6. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623974383 and your call will be returned.
  7. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Andrew Mawhinney, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), or Tel: 028 9052 9668.
  8. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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