Statistical Press Release - Latest labour market figures

Date published: 18 January 2017

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

Statistical Press Release - Latest labour market figures
Statistical Press Release - Latest labour market figures


  • 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.

Key Points

Labour Force Survey (LFS) unemployment increases

  1. The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period September - November 2016 was 5.6%, representing an increase of 0.1 percentage points (pps) from the previous quarter, but a fall of 0.3 pps over the year (from 5.9%).
  2. There was also a decrease (0.9 pps) in the employment rate (69.3%) and an increase (0.8 pps) in the economic inactivity rate (to 26.5%) over the most recent quarter.
  3. The latest NI unemployment rate (5.6%) was above the UK average of 4.8% however, it was below the European Union (8.3%) rate for October 2016 and Republic of Ireland (7.3%) rate for November 2016.

NI claimant count continues to fall

  1. The more recent seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits stood at 32,700 (3.6% of the workforce) in December 2016, representing a decrease of 800 from the previous month’s revised figure. The number of people leaving the register in the last 12 month period has slowed, from 11,100 to December 2015 to 5,900 in the recent year to December 2016.

Confirmed redundancies increase

  1. There were 242 confirmed redundancies in December 2016. There has been an overall increase of 42% in the number of confirmed redundancies since 1st July to 31st December 2016: 1,474 compared to 1,041 in the equivalent period in the previous year. These are likely to have been redundancies which have been planned for some time.


  1. Despite the fall in LFS employment and increases in the unemployment and inactivity rates over the quarter, the latest figures indicate that employment remains higher and unemployment and inactivity lower compared to the same period last year (September – November 2015).
  2. Annual LFS figures also continue to reflect a gradual decline in the unemployment rate over recent years from 7.6% in 2013, 6.6% in 2014, 6.1% in 2015 and 5.8% in 2016 based on figures until September – November.
  3. Despite the positive figures over the year, there is some evidence of a slowdown in growth. The unemployment register figures for 2016 indicate that claimants have been leaving the register at a much slower rate in 2016 compared to 2015. Employee jobs figured published last month also showed that annual jobs growth had slowed. There was an increase of 500 jobs over the year to September 2016 compared to annual jobs growth of 9,440 to September 2015.  
  4. There has been little impact on either measure of unemployment since the EU referendum. However, the post-referendum picture is still emerging and will continue to do so over the coming quarters and years.

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 4.4% 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: NISRA website. 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 DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 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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