NORTHERN Ireland faces the lowest percentage job creation among 12 UK regions over the next five years, a report has claimed.
Living with Austerity by business advisers PwC said UK total employment would grow by 850,000 jobs by 2018, thanks to a swelling in the ranks of part-time and temporary workers.
But because of anticipated losses in the public sector, Northern Ireland would only increase net employment by around 9,000 by 2018, a much lower rate of growth than in the 10 years to 2008.
Overall, 42,000 new private sector jobs would compensate for around 33,000 job losses in the public sector, and growth in real wages would also be subdued.
Dr Esmond Birnie, chief economist with PwC in Northern Ireland, said the winners would be the over-50s, while young people would continue to struggle to find a job.
"The official data we analyse in the report shows that Northern Ireland's young people, aged 16 to 24, have been worst hit so far on jobs, while the level of employment for the over-50s – and particularly for women – has outpaced the other 11 regions.
"This suggests that the employment market is adjusting to an ageing population, but it also points to the need for increased investment in measures to boost youth employment such as apprenticeships."
"Our analysis suggests this broad pattern will continue for some years, with Northern Ireland growing jobs much more slowly than other regions and with real wage growth remaining subdued." Northern Ireland's employment profile has changed markedly over the past few years, with employment among 16-24 year olds falling by 15.8% between the first three months of 2010 and the same quarter in 2013.
That was twice the rate of decline in the north east of England – the next worst-hit region – where the number of young people with jobs fell by 8% over the same period.