October 2017 Labour Market Report published

Date published: 18 October 2017

The labour market 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 (0.3 pps) in the employment rate (68.4%) over the quarter and (1.6 pps) over the year.The economic inactivity rate (28.1%) increased over the quarter by 0.7 pps and increased by 2.3 pps over the year. The increase over the year was statistically significant and is likely to reflect a real change albeit from a record low.
  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted and 0.8 pps over the year (from 5.5%). The current rate is the lowest in the quarterly series since September - November 2008.
  • The latest NI unemployment rate (4.7%) was above the UK average of 4.3% however, it was below the European Union (7.7%) rate and Republic of Ireland (6.4%) rate for July 2017.

NI claimant count continues to fall

  • The more recent seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 29,200 (3.2% of the workforce) in September 2017, representing a decrease of 500 from the previous month’s revised figure.
  • The roll-out of Universal Credit began in September 2017 (replacing out-of-work benefits for new claimants). There has not been a direct impact on Claimant Count figures as the roll-out began after the September Claimant Count reference date.

Confirmed redundancies decreased over the year

  • There were 72 confirmed redundancies in September 2017. Over the last year to 30th September 2017 there has been a 45% decrease in the number of confirmed redundancies: from 3,493 in the previous year to 1,932.


  • Latest labour market indicators show a continuation in the trend of falling unemployment evident since 2012/13. The Labour Force Survey estimate (4.7% for June-August) decreased over the quarter and the year resulting in the lowest unemployment rate since the economic downturn. Similarly the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits decreased for the 19th month running.
  • Over the year the falling unemployment has been coupled with falling employment and increasing economic inactivity. It should be noted, however, that employment rates have fallen from a series high of 70.0% in June-August 2016. The current employment rate of 68.4% is similar to rates in 2015 and is significantly above rates in 2009.
  • The increases in economic inactivity over the year were also from an historic low of 25.8% in June-August 2016. However, at 28.1%, it is the highest economic inactivity rate recorded since 2010.
  • Taken together these changes suggest that recent decreases in unemployment are being offset by increasing numbers in economic inactivity rather than increasing numbers in employment.

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 3.7% and 5.8%).
  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 is available on the NISRA website.
  7. Further information and tables from each of the data sources are available on the NISRA Website.
  8. 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.
  9. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Andrew Mawhinney, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), andrew.mawhinney@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 9052 9668.
  10. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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