Northern Ireland's unemployment rate hits record low

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Northern Ireland's unemployment rate hit a record low of 3% in the first quarter of the year.

The employment level (70%), while one of the highest recorded, was below the UK's (72%) and remained the lowest of the UK regions.

Economic inactivity was the highest in the UK at 28%, statistics from the Economy Department revealed.

At 3.1%, unemployment was at its lowest since records began in 1995 and significantly below a year ago.

The Federation of Small Businesses Northern Ireland policy chairwoman Tina McKenzie said: "While the fact that our unemployment rate is the lowest on record will grab the headlines, the full picture is much more complex.

"Our employment rate at 69.7% is the lowest of any UK region, with the rate of economic inactivity at 28%, the highest of any UK region and a huge seven percentage points above the UK average.

"While it is welcome that economic inactivity has decreased over the quarter, significant action is required to address the issue.

"It is vital that people who can work have a pathway back to employment, so businesses can access the skills they need, and the prosperity and wellbeing of our citizens can increase."

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