Stats suggest labour market ‘coming off the boil’

The labour market has been buoyant but employment problems remain
The labour market has been buoyant but employment problems remain

Despite unemployment hitting an all-time low, record numbers of jobs and warnings about skill shortages, one local economist has suggested the labour market could be ‘coming off the boil’ with publication of the latest job figures.

Published by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows that while unemployment increased slightly over the quarter the level of redundancies rose by a third, rising to 2,741 in the past 12 months.

The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period July-September 2018 was 4.1%.

The unemployment rate increased by 0.3% over the quarter and was unchanged over the year.

The local unemployment rate is level with the UK average but is still lower than in the Republic of Ireland (5.6%) and the European Union (6.8%).

However, 50% of those unemployed in NI were unemployed for one year or more, compared to 25% in the UK.

In addition, the employment rate in NI is the lowest and the inactivity rate is the highest of the UK regions.

“Today’s Labour Market Report suggests that the local labour market is coming off the boil,” said Richard Ramsey, chief NI economist at Ulster Bank.

“The number of people working in some form or other is falling while the number of unemployed and economically inactive is on the rise.

“Northern Ireland has enjoyed a buoyant labour market,” he added.

“Earlier this year the unemployment rate plumbed an all-time-low of 3.1% and a record number of jobs.

“According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), employment levels peaked in Q1 at 851,000 but has fallen in each of the last two quarters to 833,000 (-2.1%) to Q3.

“Will we see the run of record highs in job numbers come to an end in Q3?

“The Q3 figures are due for release on the 11th December.”