Labour Market Statistics published today

Date published: 24 January 2018

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

Labour Market Statistics published today
Labour Market Statistics published today

Details

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

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period September - November 2017 was 3.8%, the lowest reported figure since 2007. The unemployment rate decreased by 0.9 pps from the previous quarter and 1.8 pps over the year (from 5.6%). The quarterly and annual decreases were statistically significant and are likely to reflect real change.
  • The latest NI unemployment rate (3.8%) was below the UK average of 4.3%. Additionally, it was below the European Union (7.4%) rate and Republic of Ireland (6%) rate for October 2017.

LFS employment rate increased over the quarter but decreased over the year, economic inactivity rate increased over quarter and year

  • There was an increase (0.6 pps) in the employment rate (69%) over the quarter and a 0.3 pps decrease over the year.  Although these shorter-term changes were not significant, looking at the longer-term shows that there has been a significant increase since 2012-13, and particularly since the low rates recorded in 2009.  The current rate is similar to the rates seen since 2015.                                                                         
  • The economic inactivity rate (28.2%) increased over the quarter by 0.1 pps and increased by 1.7 pps over the year. This is the highest rate recorded since 2010, but remains significantly below peak rates recorded in mid-2009.

Small increase in the NI Claimant Count, the first in nearly five years

  • The more recent seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 29,200 (3.2% of the workforce) in December 2017, representing an increase of 100 from the previous month’s revised figure. This is the first increase since January 2013. However, since then the claimant count has fallen by 35,600 (54.9%).
  • Universal Credit was introduced in NI in September 2017 replacing out of work benefits for new claimants. On the December claimant count reference date Universal Credit was available in four out of 35 Job Centres in NI and provisional estimates show that approximately 200 people were claiming the out-of-work element of this benefit.
  • The provisional estimate of out of work Universal Credit claimants is subject to revision in the following months and has not been included in the headline claimant count total. The NI claimant count continues to be based on Job Seekers Allowance claimants only.  

Confirmed redundancies decreased over the year

  • There were 186 confirmed redundancies in December 2017. Over the last year to 31 December 2017, there has been a 51% decrease in the number of confirmed redundancies: from 3,653 in 2016 to 1,776.

Commentary

  • The LFS shows a continuation in the trend of falling unemployment evident since 2013. The LFS estimate (3.8% for September - November) decreased over the quarter and the year resulting in the lowest unemployment rate since 2007. The decrease in unemployment over the year (1.8pps) is the sharpest annual decrease since 1997.
  • The claimant count increased marginally over the month (by 100 claimants) which represents the first increase in almost five years. However, in this five year period the claimant count has more than halved, decreasing by over 35,000.
  • The decreases in unemployment over the year have been coupled with an increase in economic inactivity. The inactivity rate has been increasing since the record low in 2016, and following an increase of 1.7 percentage points over the year the rate at September-November 2017 is 28.2%. The current inactivity rate is the highest rate recorded since 2010, but remains significantly below peak rates recorded in mid-2009.
  • The employment rate increased over the quarter and decreased over the year. The magnitude of the annual change (-0.3pps) was much lower than those experienced in unemployment (-1.8pps) and inactivity (1.7pps). At 69% the current employment rate is similar to those recorded since 2015.  Although the changes over the quarter and year were not significant, looking at the longer-term shows that there has been a significant increase since 2012-13, and particularly since the low rates recorded in 2009.  

Upcoming Releases

  • Facts and Figures from the Inter Departmental Business Register (IDBR) 2017 is due to be published at 9.30 am, 31 January 2018, on the NISRA website. A separate briefing will issue for this release.

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.

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% of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 2.9% and 4.9%).

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 information is available at:  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:

Carly Gordon
Economic and Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS)
carly.gordon@nisra.gov.uk
or Tel: 028 9025 5172

9. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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