NI’s record high level of employment

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Northern Ireland has reached a record high level of employment.

The labour market statistics were published by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency. Businesses reported that employee jobs have increased to a record high of 778,240 jobs.

The unemployment rate at 3.1% remains below the UK rate, continuing the trend of low unemployment evident since late 2017. The employment rate (71.3%) increased over the quarter and the year to the joint highest on record. At 26.4% the inactivity rate is now similar to the relatively low levels seen in 2016.

The NI unemployment rate of 3.1% was below the UK rate of 3.8%, the European Union rate of 6.4% for March 2019 and the Republic of Ireland rate of 4.6% for April 2019.

The continued improvements in the NI labour market are consistent with the UK experience, where the number of employee jobs is at a record high, employment is at a joint high, inactivity is one of the lowest on record and unemployment is joint lowest on record.

The Federation of Small Business NI Policy Chairwoman, Tina McKenzie, said that the positive figures should not be taken for granted as firms continue to face uncertainty about the future.

She said: “These further positive employment figures are certainly to be welcomed, showing the dynamism of our local SMEs who continue to create jobs in uncertain conditions, serving as the engine room of the local economy.”

“We must however not take these figures for granted, other economic indices have shown some signs of a slowdown ahead.” FSB’s figures show 70% of firms aren’t expecting performance to improve in the next quarter.