Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

500 more people join dole queues

An additional 500 people joined the unemployment lines last month

An additional 500 people joined the unemployment lines in Northern Ireland during September.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster looked to a 0.4% rise in output from the services sector as offering a glimmer of hope and noted the 7% unemployment rate for the last quarter was slightly lower than the previous three months.

But figures released on Wednesday showed that output from the Northern Ireland Production sector fell by 0.5% during the second quarter of this year, while UK output increased by 1.0%.

The minister said: "The figures highlight the fragile state of the recovery in Northern Ireland and, given pressures on government expenditure, it is clear that the recovery must be led by the private sector. Fostering economic growth is a key priority of the Northern Ireland Executive.

"The Executive sub-committee on the economy will continue to work on developing an economic strategy and will be consulting shortly on their framework for action. We will seek to secure from the UK Government the necessary policy levers to grow the dynamic and innovative economy."

But the Ulster Bank's chief economist in Northern Ireland Richard Ramsey said the sharp rise in unemployment since the credit crunch began was leading to substantial economic damage.

"Over the last three years, NI's unemployment register has increased by 34,800 (almost 150%) which represents just under 1,000 per month," he said.

"These deteriorating labour market conditions have occurred before the full force of the forthcoming public expenditure cuts are felt. The state of the housing market, and falling house prices, has arguably attracted the most attention over the last three years.

"Looking ahead, the labour market will be at the sharp end of the fiscal correction which is about to take place."

He said the latest unemployment figures "portray a familiar story" and brought the total number of unemployment benefit claimants to 58,300.

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