Northern Ireland Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 12 November 2019

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

NI unemployment rate decreased over the quarter and year to a record low

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period July-September 2019 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.5 per cent. The unemployment rate decreased over the quarter by 0.6 percentage points (pps) and decreased by 1.3pps over the year. The annual change in the unemployment rate was statistically significant, ie the recorded change exceeded the variability expected from a sample survey of this size and is likely to reflect real change.
  • The NI unemployment rate (2.5 per cent) was below the UK rate (3.8 per cent), the European Union (6.2 per cent) rate for August 2019 and the Republic of Ireland (5.3 per cent) rate for September 2019.

Employment rate increased to a record high

  • The employment rate (72.3 per cent) increased over the quarter by 0.1pps and increased over the year by 2.8pps. The annual change in the employment rate was statistically significant, ie the recorded change exceeded the variability expected from a sample survey of this size and is likely to reflect real change.
  • The economic inactivity rate (25.8 per cent) increased over the quarter by 0.4pps and decreased over the year by 1.9pps. The changes in the inactivity rate were not statistically significant, i.e. the recorded changes did not exceed the variability expected from a sample survey of this size.

Confirmed redundancies increased over the year

  • The number of confirmed redundancies (3,096) in the most recent 12 months was 13 per cent higher than in the previous 12 months (2,742). NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 82 redundancies took place in October 2019.
  • A total of 84 redundancies were proposed in October 2019, a decrease on the previous month’s total of 1,452.
  • It should be noted that the confirmed total provides a better indication of real job losses than the proposed total. The confirmed figures provided are likely to be an underestimate of total job losses, as under the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (Amended 8 October 2006) companies are only legally required to notify the Department of impending redundancies of 20 or more employees. Companies who propose less than 20 redundancies are not included in the statistics.

Weekly earnings increase in nominal and real terms in NI and UK

  • The latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings estimates indicate that median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2019 was £535, £50 lower than the UK median (£585) and an increase of £16.80 (3.3 per cent) over the year. When adjusted for inflation, weekly earnings increased by 1.2 per cent over the year in NI and by 0.9 per cent in the UK.

Commentary

  • The Labour Force Survey shows that the employment rate increased over the quarter to a record high of 72.3 per cent, while the unemployment rate decreased to a record low of 2.5 per cent and economic inactivity increased to 25.8 per cent (despite the increase, this is one of the lowest rates on record). These trends are similar to those in the UK, where unemployment is at a joint record low (3.8 per cent), employment is at one of its highest points (76.0 per cent) and economic inactivity is at one of the lowest rates on record (20.8 per cent).
  • Although the NI unemployment rate remains below the UK rate and is the lowest of all the UK regions, NI has the second lowest employment rate and highest inactivity rate in the UK.
  • The significant falls in unemployment and increases in employment were coupled with moderate increases in wages.  Median gross weekly earnings increased over the year to April 2019 in nominal (3.3 per cent) and real terms (1.2 per cent) to £535. The increases were larger than the UK average (2.9v and 0.9v respectively) although NI median weekly wages were the second lowest of all the UK regions.

 

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available on the NISRA Labour Force Survey page.
  1. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households for taking part in the Labour Force Survey.  
  1. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. This month’s report includes figures from the Labour Force Survey, official redundancy data and vacancy data.
  1. 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 unemployment rate is likely to fall within 0.6 per cent of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 1.9 per cent and 3.1 per cent).
  1. 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. ) Companies are legally required to notify the Department of impending redundancies of 20 or more employees. Companies who propose fewer than 20 redundancies are not included in the statistics. As a result, the figures provided are likely to be an underestimate of total job losses, however, it is not possible to quantify the extent of the shortfall.
  1. 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.
  1. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on 17 December 2019.
  1. 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.
  1. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

          Responsible statistician:

          Sarah Fyffe,

          Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),

          sarah.fyffe@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 905 29449.

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