Belfast Telegraph

Jobs data brings us a little cheer

By David Eliot

Jobs data of late has been a bit of an ordeal to sift through and although yesterday's was no less laborious, it did at least provide a little cheer.

A reduction in the headline unemployment level to 6.9% in the three months to October compared to the previous three months offered a jolt of excitement and good cheer which the business desk hadn't enjoyed since the editor offered to make a round of coffees.

But after speaking to the numbers men and women the good cheer was quickly replaced by scepticism.

They questioned how the ILO number could be below the claimant count, a measure which encompasses a narrower field, and tended to push it aside. More worryingly is that the percentage of unemployed people in Northern Ireland who have been out of work for more than a year climbed to 24.8% in November.

But even they couldn't hide the snippets of good cheer. Youth unemployment has fallen for the second consecutive month and unemployment amongst men has stabilised.

Of course, it's worth remembering employment is a lagging indicator of economic health - estimated at around six months - so the next data releases could be hands-in-front-of-the-eyes stuff.

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