Unemployment falls to record low of 3.1% in Northern Ireland


GETTYUnemployment figures throughout the UK fell by a total of 47,000 people

Northern Ireland was the best performing home nation with an unemployment rate of 3.1 per cent.

With a rate of 3.1% in the first quarter of 2018, Northern Ireland has a lower rate than the United Kingdom (4.2%) for the third consecutive quarter.

NISRA said the North's jobless rate dropped significantly below the average United Kingdom rate of 4.2 per cent over the same period and was below the comparable European Union rate of 7.1 per cent in February and the Republic's 6.1 per cent unemployment rate in March. It is the lowest since records began in 1995 and remains below the United Kingdom average (4.2 per cent).

Nisra said that the 2.1% year-on-year fall in unemployment reflected "real change".

Also, the economic inactivity rate of 28% decreased over the quarter, which is more than the United Kingdom rate of 21%.

"Our employment rate at 69.7 per cent is the lowest of any UK region, with the rate of economic inactivity at 28 per cent, the highest of any UK region and a huge 7 percentage points above the UK average", she said.

Overall, the results also show an improvement over the quarter in employment and inactivity rates.

He added: "As always, headline labour market data give us a snapshot of the health of the labour market, but growth remains weak in the Scottish economy, and the latest productivity data released last week showed that labour productivity fell 1.9 per cent in real terms in 2017. The latter will not produce higher levels of economic prosperity and can not be compensated by a (flattering) low unemployment rate".

FSB Northern Ireland policy chair, Tina McKenzie believes the high economic inactivity rate requires "immediate attention".

"While it is welcome that economic inactivity has decreased over the quarter, significant action is required to address the issue".

But the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) also said that more than 300 people were made redundant in April - the highest number in 18 months.

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