Labour Market Statistics Published

Date published: 11 December 2018

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

Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey – Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)
Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey – Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)

Key Points

Labour Force Survey (LFS) unemployment decreased over the quarter and the year

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period August-October 2018 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 3.9 per cent. The unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and 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 and are, therefore, not likely to reflect a real change.
  • The NI unemployment rate (3.9 per cent) was below the UK rate (4.1 per cent), the European Union (6.7 per cent) and the Republic of Ireland (5.4 per cent) rates for September 2018.
  • Over a half (55 per cent) of those unemployed in NI were long-term unemployed (ie unemployed for one year or more), compared to 24 per cent in the UK. 

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

  • There was a decrease (0.7pps) in the employment rate (68.7 per cent) over the quarter and an increase over the year (0.6pps).  The change in the employment rate was not statistically significant over the quarter or the year.
  • The economic inactivity rate (28.5 per cent) increased over the quarter by 0.8pps and decreased over the year by 0.5pps. These changes were not statistically significant.

 Confirmed redundancies increased over the year

  • The number of confirmed redundancies (2,643) in the most recent 12 months is 43 per cent higher than in the previous 12 months. NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 95 redundancies took place in November 2018.  

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

  • Estimates from the Quarterly Employment Survey September 2018 indicate that private sector jobs increased over the quarter and year to the highest level on record (559,110). Public sector jobs decreased over the quarter and increased over the year. The number of public sector jobs is estimated at 207,290 and is 9 per cent below its highest level in September 2009.
  • The total number of employee jobs increased over the quarter (2,240 jobs) and over the year (14,700 jobs) to 765,880; the highest number of jobs on record. The annual change in employee jobs is statistically significant ie the recorded change exceeded the variability expected from a survey of this size and was likely to reflect real change.
  • Increases were experienced in all broad industry sectors over the year. The services sector which accounts for four-fifths of jobs in NI, accounted for the majority (75 per cent) of the annual growth. Within the services sector the largest increases over the year were within human health and social work activities, wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles/cycles, and accommodation and food service activities.


  • Businesses reported an increase in employee jobs over the quarter and year, to a record high of 765,880 jobs in September 2018. Employee jobs have seen quarter on quarter growth since December 2015, driven by private sector jobs and the services sector. The trend of increasing jobs in the NI economy is consistent with the UK experience, which is also reporting increases over the quarter and year to a record high (30.5 million).
  • The Labour Force Survey continues to highlight low unemployment evident since mid-2017. The most recent estimates show the NI unemployment rate (3.9 per cent) decreased by 0.1pps over the quarter and the year to August-October 2018. The employment rate (68.7 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. None of the short term changes were statistically significant.
  • The UK unemployment rate (4.1 per cent) also remains low, but in contrast to the NI experience, the UK inactivity rate is the lowest on record and the employment rate is at its highest. While the employment rate in NI has been on an increasing trend since 2009, and is significantly above rates 5 years ago, it remains the lowest of the UK regions. The most recent inactivity rate is significantly below rates in 2009 but significantly above rates in 2016 and the highest of the UK regions.


Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available at: Labour Market Report
  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 Quarterly Employment Survey, and official redundancy data.
  3. NI Claimant Count (Experimental Series) includes Jobseeker’s Allowance Claimants and those claimants of Universal Credit who were claiming it principally for the reason of being unemployed. The November 2018 seasonally adjusted claimant count total is estimated at 28,700. Due to ongoing issues with the statistical processing of Universal Credit claims, it is likely that this total is an undercount and there may be an upward revision in the November figure next month. This is a UK wide issue, however, the majority of cases relate to NI. Users should note that large revisions are to be expected while the series is experimental and improvements are being made to the process. 
  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 2.8 per cent and 4.9 per cent).
  5. 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.
  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. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on 22 January 2019.
  9. 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 and your call will be returned.
  10. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:
    Responsible statistician:
    Carly Gordon,
    Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), or Tel: 028 9025 5172.

  11. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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