Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Accused of negativity on jobs, we still keep it real

Another week, another ministerial speech and another early dig at this noble profession. The First Minister's assertion on Wednesday night that we in the media were only looking for the negative aspects of this week's jobs data hurts, but then he does have a point to make, of sorts.

We like to rattle on each month about the high level of economic inactivity in Northern Ireland as a means to sully any positive aspects to the monthly unemployment numbers.

It's not that we're doom laden, although it is a good fun to counter government statistics, but we are trying to put the headline figures in context as we're paid to do.

Mr Robinson admitted the Executive needs to address the high level of people here who aren't actively looking for, or who aren't able to, work, but he was quick to point out one reason why we compare so unfavourably to the rest of the UK.

He said it's because we have such a high number of students per capita here, a factor which Mr Robinson believes leaves us in good shape when these graduates are captains of industry.

It's not the only reason but it certainly got us thinking while the minister restated his believe that Treasury civil servants are blocking a decision on corporation tax. And we took that on the chin and didn't even mention the fact that if you strip out students it wouldn't alter our last place as the most economically inactive bunch in the UK.

You see? We are noble.

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