The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Northern Ireland has gone up in the biggest single monthly increase in more than 20 years with the slowdown in the construction sector accounting for most of the rise.
According to statistics from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland for June to August was 4.3%, up from 3.7% the year before.
Altogether, 28,900 people were claiming unemployment related benefits in September, a rise of 1,200 on August. Reflecting the slowdown in the housing market, around 60% of the increase was because of job losses in the construction sector. The department said the rise “represented the largest single monthly increase in unemployment claimants...since April 1986”.
The figures also show there were 788,000 people in employment in Northern Ireland between June and August, a fall of just under 1% over the quarter but a rise of 1.5% over the year.
Economy Minister Arlene Foster said: “The latest labour market figures show some further increases in unemployment. While this is disappointing, it is not entirely unexpected.
“The slow-down in the housing market and wider construction industry in particular is having a large impact, with former construction workers accounting for the majority of the rise in benefit claimants during September.”
The unemployment rate in Northern Ireland remains below the average for the UK (5.7%) and the Republic (5.9%).
Meanwhile, North American telecommunications company BTI system has announced it will create 60 jobs over the next three years with the opening of a £6m European headquarters and software centre of excellence in Belfast. Ms Foster said the announcement was “positive news”.