Northern Ireland Unemployment Rate Falls To Lowest Ever Level

Scotland unemployment levels

The NI rate is below the UK unemployment rate (4.2%) for the third consecutive quarter after consistently being above UK rates since the end of 2013. below the UK average of 4.2%, itself the joint lowest figure on record the agency said.

The unemployment rate in Northern Ireland has fallen to its lowest ever level, according to a recent Labour Force Survey.

The figure is also below the European Union (7.1%) and the Republic of Ireland (6.1%) rates.

At 28%, the rate of economic inactivity, which covers people who are neither in work nor looking for it for reasons including illness and study, remained the highest of all United Kingdom regions.

"In contrast to the NI experience, the United Kingdom results also show the lowest inactivity rates on record".

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

The latest figures follow news that the country's productivity, measured by output per hour worked, fell by 1.9 per cent in real terms a year ago.

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

Almost a decade ago the jobless rate in Northern Ireland was sitting at a high of around 8.2 per cent - at 3.1 per cent it is now at its lowest level since records began in 1995.

Ulster Bank chief economist, Richard Ramsey said the positive headlines present a "superficially positive " picture of the labour market and concealed key weaknesses.

Across the United Kingdom employment increased by 197,000 to 32.3 million, the highest figure since records began in 1971. "Long-standing challenges related to economic inactivity, job quality and productivity remain", he added.

In the aftermath of the 2008 recession, the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland peaked at 8.2%.

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

Last month the number of people receiving unemployment benefits was 29,000, representing 3.2 per cent of the workforce and a marginal increase on the February figure.

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