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Jobless figure in Northern Ireland falls by 2,000 to lowest rate in seven years

By Business Reporters

Published 15/09/2016

Dole queues in Northern Ireland got shorter in August
Dole queues in Northern Ireland got shorter in August

The number of people unemployed in Northern Ireland is at its lowest level for seven years - dropping by 2,000 in three months.

And in August the number of people in the dole queues fell by 800 across Northern Ireland.

However, the rate of economic inactivity here was 26.4% during the last quarter.

That's 0.3% higher than in the previous three months.

But one economist has warned the real impact of Brexit has still to be felt.

Andrew Webb said: "We have been quite fixated on Brexit these past three months but the economy appears to continue broadly as was.

"That said, this is no time for any smugness or complacency.

"The real impact will begin to be felt when the exit occurs."

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said that while the numbers appeared positive, they don't reflect the true picture.

"What you are seeing is the rise in the number of economically inactive, and also, on one hand, while there is a fall in people claiming unemployment benefit, (a rise in) the number of people on other benefits, like DLA," he said.

"We are losing people off Job Seekers, but moving to other benefits."

Speaking about the performance of Northern Ireland's various sectors, he said: "Manufacturing is weak, and services are very strong, growing at the fastest rate in almost 10 years.

"One sector that is way behind where it was before the recession is business services and finance."

Wilfred Mitchell, policy chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "FSB welcomes that more people are in jobs and the Economy Minister Simon Hamilton's response that creating more and better jobs is a key priority.

"One of the ways to successfully achieve this is realising the key role played by the small business sector, which employs more people than the public sector and large companies combined."

Across the UK it seems that the Brexit vote has had little if any effect on job figures, although analysts have warned that it may be too soon to see an impact.

Latest statistics show that 35,100 people here were claiming unemployment benefit in August, down by 800 on the July total.

The rate stands at 5.6%, a decline of 0.7% over the year.

The number of claimants has dropped by nearly 30,000 since the most recent jobless peak in February 2013.

"It is very welcome to see another decrease in the number of people on the unemployment register," Mr Hamilton said.

"The count now stands at 35,100 people - a decrease of 16% over the year."

Belfast Telegraph

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