Unemployment across the province rose by 200 in February according to new figures although there has ben a fall of 8,000 over the past 12 months.
New statistics show unemployment over the three months from November to January fell by just 0.1% withthe total number of claimants last month standing at 38,300.
The data from the Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey shows the highest number of working age persons in employment since the series began in 1992.
Businesses reported (in the Quarterly Employment Survey) that the number of employee jobs increased over the quarter to December 2015 (0.5% or 3,310 jobs) and over the year (1.6% or 11,590 jobs) to 730,410.
“Despite a slight increase in the numbers claiming unemployment related benefits, there are many encouraging messages in the figures published today,” said Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell.
“I welcome in particular the record employment numbers and the historic low in economic inactivity rates. In addition, the number of employee jobs continues to increase.
“While the Northern Ireland unemployment rate is above that for the UK, it continues to compare very favourably to the December 2015 rate for the European Union (9.0%) and the January 2016 rate for the Republic of Ireland (8.6%).”
Economic output measures showed increases over the quarter and year in both the production and services sectors. The Index of Production increased by 1.3% over both the quarter and year, while the Index of Services showed an increase of 0.6% over the quarter and 2.0% over the year.
“The increases in economic output are welcome but must be considered in the context of more recent job loss announcements in the manufacturing sector, indicating that there is more work to be done,” Mr Bell said.