Statistical Press Release - Labour Market and Economic Output Statistics published

Date published: 14 December 2016

The Labour Market and Economic Output Statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

Statistical Press Release - Labour Market and Economic Output Statistics published
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  • This is the first release of official statistics relating to employee jobs and output for the quarterly period following the EU referendum. The post-referendum picture is still emerging and will continue to do so over the coming quarters and years. It is also not possible to separate out the specific impact of the referendum in this quarter from pre- existing trends. 
  • However, the latest figures show there has been little change in unemployment rates since the EU referendum, while the jobs figures indicate there has been no change over the quarter. The latter represented a continuation of a more gradual slowdown in jobs growth that had already been evident for some time (0.1% growth over the year). The service sector reported the first quarterly fall since Q2 2015 and output in the production sector continued its recent decline over the quarter.  

Key Points


  • This is the second set of Labour Force Survey (LFS) results to be published covering the period immediately following the EU Referendum. The first set of results showed that the Northern Ireland (NI) unemployment rate fell in the quarter immediately after the referendum (July – September 2016) by 0.4 percentage points. The latest LFS results for the period August – October 2016 indicate that unemployment increased marginally (by 0.1 percentage points) to 5.7%.
  • There was also a marginal increase in the NI employment rate to 69.5%, and a marginal decrease in the economic inactivity rate to 26.2% over the most recent quarter.
  • The latest NI unemployment rate (5.7%) was above the UK average of 4.8%, which was unchanged over the quarter and decreased over the year (0.3 percentage points). The NI rate was below the European Union (8.5%) rate and Republic of Ireland (7.9%) rate for September 2016.
  • Since the EU referendum in June 2016 the NI claimant count has continued to decline at a similar rate each month.


  • There has been an overall increase of 55% in the number of confirmed redundancies from 1st July to 30th November 2016: 1,118 compared to 719 in the equivalent period in the previous year. However, these are likely to have been redundancies, which have been planned for some time.


  • Businesses reported (in the Quarterly Employment Survey) that the number of employee jobs remained essentially unchanged over the quarter to September 2016 (-100) and increased over the year (500) to 732,360. Although the latest figures refer to the immediate post referendum period, this is consistent with a trend reflecting a gradual slow down in annual jobs growth that has been evident since June 2015 (when jobs increased by 16,880 over the year).

Service Sector Output

  • Output in the services sector fell over the quarter (by 0.5% in real terms to Q3 July-September 2016) for the first time since the beginning of 2015. However, despite the latest quarterly decline the sector recorded growth over the year of 2.8% just behind UK growth of 3.0% for the equivalent period (Quarter 3 2015 to Quarter 3 2016).  Only the wholesale, retail, accommodation and food sectors reported growth over the quarter (0.9%), while the remaining private sector services all reported a quarterly fall.

Production Sector Output

  • Output in the production sector has been falling over each of the last 3 quarters, with the latest fall of 1.8% in real terms being the most marked since quarter 2 (Apr-Jun) 2009. The fall has been most pronounced in manufacturing, where five of the six broad manufacturing subsectors are reporting quarterly decline. Food, beverages and tobacco and engineering and allied industries are the largest contributors to both the quarterly (-2.6%) and annual fall (-2.4%) in manufacturing output. The production sector as a whole fell by 1.4% over the year, compared to growth of 1.1% in the UK. 


  • Overall, it is not possible to specifically attribute any of the latest changes in the local labour market or economy to the impact of the EU referendum. However, there is evidence of a continued slowdown in jobs growth and the production sector is reporting a decline of 1.4% over the year. Despite a quarterly fall in output, growth over the year in the service sector remained positive (2.8%) in real terms.   
  • The decline in production sector output has been mainly driven by the slowdown in manufacturing, which has been evident since the beginning of the year, though it has gained pace in recent quarters. While there was a decline in service sector output over the quarter this was not particularly marked and growth over the year is just behind that in the UK.
  • NISRA’s NI Composite Economic Index will be published on the 19th January, which will also include information on the performance of the construction sector and provide a measure of overall economic performance to Quarter 3 2016.

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). Although UC has not been introduced in NI, the NI and UK series remain broadly comparable. 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 1.2% of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 4.5% and 6.8%).
  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 at: Labour Force Survey. Further information and tables from each of the data sources are available on the NISRA – Economic and Labour Market Statistics Website
  7. For media enquiries, please contact the Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 079623974383 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.
  9. Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

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