Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Jobs market: Has Northern Ireland finally turned the corner?

David Elliott, Business Editor
David Elliott, Business Editor

The jobs market is important to all of us, whether employers, employees or even the self-employed.

If it's in good health then there's a good chance our personal finances will be in good order so we'll start spending and boost the economy.

Figures on Northern Ireland's job market show a bit of an increase in the unemployed here in the last quarter of 2013, but nothing to write home about.

In fact, if you take last year as a whole, our employment data has outperformed, with unemployment below the UK average for a number of months. The tables have turned slightly now but there has been some relief that the situation has highlighted a surprising strength in the sector.

The big worry had been that the Bank of England would raise interest rates to cool a UK economy, that was beginning to show signs of overheating, before Northern Ireland's had time to get back on its feet.

That worry resufaced following the central bank's decision to use the 7% unemployment figure as a rate hike trigger but thankfully that's been shelved.

And there's also some cheer to be found from the length of the dole queue at present, at around 60,000, compared to the 120,000 back in the late 80s.

So although there are some areas of the jobs market which are a cause for concern, it's certainly in a better shape than many had predicted.