Northern Ireland Labour Market Statistics

Date published: 14 February 2023

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

Labour Market Statistics
Labour Market Statistics

Key points

Payrolled employees and monthly earnings recorded an increase over the month

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in January 2023 was 785,400, a 0.1% increase over the month and a 2.0% increase over the year.
  • When considering the annual change in employees by industry sector, the largest percentage increases over the year were recorded in the ‘Arts, entertainment and recreation’ (9.2%), ‘Information and communication’ (8.5%) and ‘Professional, scientific and technical’ (7.1%) sectors.
  • Earnings from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £2,012 in January 2023, an increase of £4 (0.2%) over the month and an increase of £76 (3.9%) over the year.

Claimant Count Rate remains constant for ninth consecutive month

  • In January 2023, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 35,900 (3.8% of the workforce), a decrease of 1.0% from the previous month’s revised figure.  The January 2023 claimant count remains 20.5% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

Increases in both confirmed and proposed redundancies over the month

Statistically significant changes in Labour Force Survey (LFS) employment and economic inactivity rates

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people aged 16 and over who were unemployed) for the period October-December 2022 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.5%.  This was a decrease of 0.5 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and of 0.7pps over the year.  Neither the quarterly nor annual changes were statistically significant.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) increased by 1.8pps over the quarter and by 3.1pps over the year to 71.9%.  Both the quarterly and annual changes were statistically significant. 
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (27.9 million) increased by 5.0% over the quarter and by 5.8% over the year.
  • The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who were not working and not seeking or available to work) decreased by 1.5pps over the quarter and by 2.6pps over the year to 26.3%.  Both the quarterly and annual changes were statistically significant.


  • The latest labour market release shows that payrolled employee numbers and earnings have both increased over the year. Measures of total employment (e.g. employment rate and hours worked), unemployment and economic inactivity continue to show improvement over the year but have not yet returned to their pre-pandemic position.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data shows that payrolled employee numbers increased by 0.1% over the month and are 2.0% above the figure recorded in January 2022. Payrolled earnings also increased over the month, by 0.2% and are 3.9% above the figure recorded in January 2022.
  • There were 260 redundancies confirmed to the Department in January 2023, taking the rolling twelve-month total to 970. Although this is an increase when compared to recent rolling twelve-month totals, it is still one of the lowest twelve-month totals in the time series. There were 440 proposed redundancies notified to the Department in January 2023, bringing the rolling twelve-month proposed redundancies total to 1,960. Again, this was an increase when compared to recent rolling twelve-month totals but is still well below the long term trend.
  • The claimant count estimate decreased over the month to January 2023 from the revised estimate for December 2022 following a trend of four consecutive monthly increases between September 2022 and December 2022. The claimant count rate remained the same as the revised rate for December 2022, the ninth consecutive month that this rate has been at 3.8%.
  • Results from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show statistically significant increases in the employment rate over both the quarter and the year to October-December 2022 to 71.9%. The economic inactivity rate was 26.3% in October-December 2022, a statistically significant decrease over both the quarter and the year. In addition, the unemployment rate for October-December 2022 is 2.5%. Despite these changes, the employment rate remains 0.5pps below the pre-pandemic level recorded in October-December 2019, whilst the unemployment rate remains 0.1pps above the pre-pandemic position and the economic inactivity rate 0.4pps above the pre-pandemic rate. The total number of hours worked in October-December 2022 was 4.4% below the pre-pandemic position recorded in October-December 2019.


Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical report and associated tables are available at:Labour Market Report February 2023
  2. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households for taking part in the Labour Force Survey.
  3. ‘Over the quarter’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period October-December 2022 and the quarter preceding that (i.e. July-September 2022).  ‘Over the year’ refer to comparisons between the latest quarterly estimates for the period October-December 2022 and those of the corresponding quarter one year previously (i.e. October-December 2021).  Changes that are found to be significant in a statistical sense (i.e. where the estimated change exceeded the variability expected from a sample survey of this size and was likely to reflect real change) will be specifically highlighted.
  4. Estimates relating to October-December 2022 should be compared with the estimates for July-September.  This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for September-November, as the October and November data are included within both estimates.
  5. 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 0.6pps of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 1.9% and 3.1%).
  6. The claimant count is an administrative data source derived from Jobs and Benefits Offices systems, which records the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits.  In March 2018 the NI claimant count measure changed from one based solely on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) to an experimental measure based on JSA claimants and out-of-work Universal Credit (UC) claimants who were claiming principally for the reason of being unemployed.  Those claiming unemployment-related benefits (either UC or JSA) may be wholly unemployed and seeking work, or may be employed but with low income and/or low hours, that make them eligible for unemployment-related benefit support.  Under UC a broader span of claimants became eligible for unemployment-related benefit than under the previous benefit regime.
  7. 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 impending redundancies of 20 or more employees.  Companies who propose fewer than 20 redundancies are not required to notify the Department, therefore 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.  All other things being equal we would expect more redundancies in sectors dominated by large businesses as they are the businesses that meet the 20 or more collective redundancy criteria.
  8. To prevent the potential identification of individual businesses, redundancy totals relating to fewer than 3 businesses are not disclosed.  The Statistical Disclosure Control Policy is available at: Redundancies background information.  Where the number of businesses does not meet the threshold for release (as detailed in the Statistical Disclosure Control Policy), individual monthly totals are not published.
  9. HMRC’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) system is an administrative data source.  The PAYE RTI system is the system employers use to take Income Tax and National Insurance contributions before they pay wages to employees.  These data relate to employees paid by employers only, and do not include self-employment income.
  10. Estimates of the number of paid employees and employee earnings from PAYE are classed as experimental statistics as they are still in their development phase.  As a result, the data are subject to revisions.  Early estimates (flash estimates) for December 2022 are based on around 85% of information and will be subject to revision in the next month’s release when between 98% and 99% of data will be available (main estimates).  The size of revisions to main and flash estimates are similar for employees, while revisions to earnings flash estimates are typically larger than main estimate revisions.  The HMRC PAYE covers the whole population rather than a sample of employees or companies.  Data are based on where employees live and not the location of their place of work within the UK.  Data are seasonally adjusted but not adjusted for inflation.  
  11. The content and format of the Labour Market Report (LMR) and monthly tables changed in September 2022 to make them more user friendly and interactive, enhancing accessibility, and increasing automation in their production.  As the tables have changed, a mapping document has been created showing the relationship between old and new tables.  In addition, the LMR, supplementary documents and data tables are now all available on one webpage with links added to individual data source pages directing users to the most recent data.
  12. 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.
  13. The next Labour Market Report will be published on the NISRA website on Tuesday 14 March 2023.
  14. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at:
  15. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays.  The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  16. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Mark McFetridge,

Economic & Labour Market Statistics (ELMS), or Tel: 028 902 55172.

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