Labour Market Statistics published today

Date published: 13 September 2017

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

Labour Force Survey (LFS) employment rate decreased over the quarter, economic inactivity rate increased

  • There was a decrease (0.5 pps) in the employment rate (68.2%) over the quarter and (1.3 pps) and over the year.The economic inactivity rate (27.8%) increased over the quarter by 0.6 pps and increased by 1.5 pps over the year.
  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted and 0.2 pps over the year (from 5.5%). The current rate is the lowest in the quarterly series since Aug - Oct 2008.
  • The latest NI unemployment rate (5.3%) was above the UK average of 4.3% however, it was below the European Union (7.7%) rate and Republic of Ireland (6.3%) rate for June 2017.

NI claimant count continues to fall

  • The more recent seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 29,800 (3.3% of the workforce) in August 2017, representing a decrease of 200 from the previous month’s revised figure.

Confirmed redundancies decreased over the year

  • There were 114 confirmed redundancies in August 2017.

Quarterly Employee Jobs

  • Private sector jobs are now at a series high having increased over both the quarter (by 0.5% or 2,970 jobs) and year (2% or 10,700 jobs). Public sector jobs now stand at 11% below the series peak in Q3 2009.
  • The total number of employee jobs increased over the quarter (4,680 jobs) and over the year (10,100 jobs) to 749,740. Increases were experienced in all four sectors over the year with the services sector accounting for the majority (61%) of the growth.
  • Over the longer term annualised total jobs growth has fallen from 2.2% to 1.5% and 1.4% over the past two years.

Services and Production Sector Output

  • Output in the services sector decreased in real terms (by 1.0%) over the second quarter, following the highest point since Q3 2008 reported during Q1 2017. NI output in this sector remains nearly 6% lower than the NI series high (Q4 2006). Growth over the year (0.5%) in the sector was lower than UK growth of 2.3% over the equivalent period (Q2 2016 to Q2 2017). However, the NI series remains at around 4% below the UK index in Q2.
  • Production output in NI fell sharply over the quarter and year (to quarter 2 2017) by 3.6% and 2.2% respectively. The UK production sector also reported decreased output over the quarter (0.4%) and year (0.3%).


  • The changes in the labour market since May – July 2016 provide a mixed picture. The employment rate decreased over the year whilst there was an increase in the economic inactivity rate. The unemployment rate has decreased over the quarter and the year resulting in the lowest rate since the economic downturn. Results from the claimant count also provide a positive picture, continuing the trend of stable or falling claimant levels evident since February 2013.
  • Decreases over the quarter and year return the employment rate to 2015 levels after historically high rates in 2016. Similarly, increases in economic inactivity over the quarter and year, after historical lows in 2016, sees a return to 2014 levels.
  • Whilst private sector jobs are reporting a series high, annualised growth has been slowing in recent quarters. On the same basis, the Service and Production sectors reported growth to Quarter 2 2017, although the level of growth was lower than in Quarter 1 2017.
  • However, the production sector experienced a sharp contraction over the quarter due to a large fall in the manufacturing sub sector of Food, Drink and Tobacco.

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 NI 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 4.2% and 6.4%).
  4. Employee jobs figures are taken from the Quarterly Employment Survey a survey of public sector organisations and private sector firms.
  5. 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.
  6. The detailed statistical bulletin and other relevant information is available at  the NISRA website
  7. 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.
  8. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: responsible statistician: Andrew Mawhinney,Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),  or Tel: 028 9052 9668. 


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