Unemployment falling in Northern Ireland

Unemployment increased slightly in Northern Ireland in the three months to December 2013 but fell over the year, figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency show.

The seasonally adjusted statistics show that the unemployment rate was up 0.1 percentage points over the quarter but down 0.5 percentage points compared to 2012.

Other findings:

  • The unemployment rate is 7.4 per cent, slightly higher than the UK average of 7.2 per cent
  • The economic inactivity rate for people aged 16-64 is 26.9 per cent, the highest in the UK
  • The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in January 2014 fell by 600 compared to December 2013 and now stands at 58,700.

Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said:

"While the unemployment rate increased slightly over the quarter, the number of unemployment benefit claimants has fallen for the 12th consecutive month. It is encouraging to note that there are 6,200 fewer people claiming unemployment benefit than one year ago.

"While there are positive signals of growth in the local economy, we cannot take any of this for granted. Going forward, we must focus on raising companies' productivity through investing in innovation, R&D [research and development] and skills and encouraging local firms to enter new markets."