Jobless total rises for second month

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The number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by 200 in March according to the latest figures from the government statistical agency NISRA.

The total stood at 38,600 though the agency said it was too early to say whether it was the start of a trend of rising unemployment.

The employment rate is close to its previous high point and the economic inactivity rate is the lowest since the series began in 1995.

Commenting on the latest figures, Danske Bank Chief Economist Angela McGowan said: “Economic growth and job creation are dependent on a stable macroeconomic environment and unfortunately in the months ahead economic uncertainty will rise as the EU referendum approaches.

“With two successive months of rising unemployment claimants, local policy makers must remain relentlessly focused on aligning investment in areas such as skills, education and infrastructure with our long-term economic goals.

“As we embark on creating a new Programme for Government in Northern Ireland there is still plenty of work to be done in terms of raising exports, increasing the number of new businesses formed and also ensuring that the region has the appropriate infrastructure to allow both local businesses and foreign investors to thrive and thereby support local job creation.”