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Number of people not working in Northern Ireland rises... but dole queues shorten

By John Mulgrew

The number of people not working or seeking a job in Northern Ireland has risen prompting concerns from one top economist.

There was a fall in the employment rate here, falling to 68.8%, down 0.5%.

And the economic inactivity rate of 27.2%, increased by 0.8%, between February and April.

However, there has been a decrease in the number of people claim job seekers' allowance, down 300 in May to 31,200.

But according to Dr Esmond Birnie of Ulster University, the latest figures show “further signs of a slowdown in the economy”.

“Economic inactivity, those not in work and not seeking work, has risen again, to 27.2%.

“In contrast, the UK average rate is 21.5%. In fact, the employment rate (the proportion of the working age population in employment), which was a key target for the previous Stormont Executive, continues to drift down.

“A further warning sign relates to the total number of employee jobs. This actually declined between December 2016 and March 2017 by 600 to 745,580; weakness in the service and public sectors being the main explanations.

“Admittedly, there was still a 1.3% jobs growth in the year to March 2017 but the poor performance in the first quarter may be the shape of things to come”.

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