Labour market statistics published

Date published: 13 November 2018

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

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Labour Force Survey (LFS) unemployment increased over the quarter and was unchanged over the year

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period July-September 2018 was 4.1 per cent. The unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points over the quarter and was unchanged over the year. Although the quarterly change was not statistically significant, the decrease from 2016 rates was statistically significant, and likely to reflect real change.
  • The NI unemployment rate (4.1 per cent) is level with the UK average and is the fifth highest rate of the UK regions. NI unemployment was lower than the Republic of Ireland (5.6 per cent) and the European Union (6.8 per cent) rates for August 2018.
  • Half (50 per cent) of those unemployed in NI were unemployed for one year or more, compared to 25 per cent in the UK.

Employment rate decreased over the quarter while the economic inactivity rate increased

  • There was a decrease (0.8 percentage points) in the employment rate (68.5 per cent) over the quarter and an increase (0.4 percentage points) over the year. These changes were not statistically significant over the quarter or the year but the employment rate is statistically significantly above 2010 rates.
  • The economic inactivity rate (28.5 per cent) increased over the quarter (0.6 percentage points) and decreased over the year (0.4 percentage points). The changes over the quarter and the year were not statistically significant, however, the inactivity rate is significantly above 2016 rates.

NI Claimant Count (Experimental Series) increased over the month

  • Universal Credit was introduced in NI in September 2017 replacing income-based Jobseekers Allowance for new claimants. On the October claimant count reference date Universal Credit was available in 27 out of 35 Job Centres in NI, including five out of seven Job Centres in Belfast. Roll out for new claimants will be complete by December 2018. 
  • In October 2018, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count (which includes some out-of-work claimants of Universal Credit) was 29,500 (3.2 per cent of the workforce). This represents an increase of 400 from the previous month’s revised figure.
  • The claimant count is an experimental statistic as it is still in the development phase.

Confirmed redundancies increased over the year

  • The number of confirmed redundancies (2,741) in the most recent 12 months is a third higher than in the previous 12 months. NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 116 redundancies took place in October 2018 and notification that 263 were proposed between mid-October and mid-November 2018.

Earnings increased over the year

  • The latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings estimates indicate that median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2018 was £521, an increase of 4.2 per cent from £500 in 2017. When adjusted for inflation, weekly earnings increased by 2.0 per cent, following a decrease in real earnings last year.


  • The unemployment rate (4.1 per cent) increased by 0.3 percentage points over the quarter and was unchanged over the year to July-September 2018. The employment rate (68.5 per cent) decreased over the quarter and increased over the year, while the economic inactivity rate (28.5 per cent) increased over the quarter and decreased over the year. Although the NI unemployment rate is now the same as the UK unemployment rate, the employment rate in NI is the lowest and the inactivity rate is the highest of the UK regions.
  • Whilst none of the quarterly or annual changes were statistically significant, the unemployment rate is significantly below and the inactivity rate is significantly above rates in 2016. The employment rate is significantly above rates in 2010.

Notes to editors: 

Notes to editors:

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available at: NISRA's Labour Market Survey website.
  2. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. This month’s report includes figures from the Labour Force Survey, the claimant count (people claiming unemployment related benefits), the Quarterly Employment Survey, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings and official redundancy data.
  3. From March 2018 the NI claimant count figures have included Jobseeker’s Allowance Claimants and those claimants of Universal Credit who were claiming it principally for the reason of being unemployed. This is an experimental series and is calculated on the same basis as the GB Claimant Count.  For more information please refer to the Further Information section of the Labour Market Report.
  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 1.0 per cent of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 3.0 per cent and 5.1 per cent).
  5. Employee jobs figures are taken from the Quarterly Employment Survey a survey of public sector organisations and private sector firms.
  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 (a) redundancies proposed and (b) redundancies confirmed.
  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. Labour Force Survey data on NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) will be released on 22nd November and NI Households (the economic activity status of working and workless households) will be published on 28th November.
  9. The Annual Business Inquiry statistics will be published on the NISRA website on the 21st November. Results from the Research & Development survey will be published on the 28th November.
  10. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on 11th December.
  11. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 028 90378110 and your call will be returned.
  12. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:
    Responsible statistician:
    Carly Gordon,
    Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), or Tel: 028 9025 5172.
  13. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA


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