Unemployment levels at lowest since 2008

The jobless figures have fallen but are still high in comparison with GB withagainst UK averages
The jobless figures have fallen but are still high in comparison with GB withagainst UK averages

Unemployment in the province fell to its lowest point since 2008 last month as figures from the Department for the Economy showed 400 fewer people claiming jobless benfits in September.

The total currently stands at 34,900 with the latest fall representing the sixth successive monthly decrease.

“This is good news for our economy,” said Economy Minister Simon Hamilton.

“Our unemployment rate is now the lowest it has been since September - November 2008.

“This is another positive decrease of 400 over the month and a fall of 5,800 over the year.

“I also welcome the increase in the employment rate to 70.1%, up over the year by 2.2 percentage points to June - August 2016.

“This was the highest employment rate since the series began in 1995.”

Having just returned from Chicago, Mr Hamilton said he had a series of meetings with existing and potential investors where the clear message had been that Northern Ireland is “a great place to do business.”

“With our local economy continuing to strengthen and perform well, I am committed to building on this progress to achieve the overall aim of creating a globally competitive economy.”

Commenting on the jobs report, PwC chief economist John Hawksworth said the news was good but said concerns remained.

“Northern Ireland’s claimant count unemployment at 3.9% is still higher than the 2.3% UK average and remains the second highest rate among the twelve UK regions.

“And at 34,900, it is still above the region’s jobless low point of 23,500 recorded in September 2007.

“UK-wide, there has been some moderation in jobs growth since the EU referendum, but there is no sign yet of major detrimental effects from the Brexit vote. However, it will take time for companies to adjust their hiring plans to referendum outcome, so we could see some further slowdown in jobs growth over the next year.”