Belfast Telegraph

Not all doom and gloom

When it comes to this column's self-imposed positivity challenge, this one is going to be a tester. Having encouraged the working population to demand a pay rise yesterday, the latest employment numbers have brought home the fact that the number of people who have a salary to complain about are dwindling.

The level of unemployment in Northern Ireland climbed to 7.4% in the three months from the May to July. Worse still if you're a young female, as unemployment among 18 to 24-year-olds here now stands at 18%.

Fear not though for this is where the good(ish) news comes in. This shocking disparity is in fact caused by a change how welfare benefits are defined which the confines of this column don't allow me, thankfully, to explain. Suffice to say a good chunk of the increase in the local claimant count up to now and in the future is more to do with an accounting issue rather than a reflection of the local economy.

Good news, eh? Well relatively but we can't leave you on such a positive note. Unemployment is a lagging indicator of economic health so the full effect of the current economic woes are still to be felt in the monthly statistics. Bah humbug.

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