Northern Ireland employment rate hits record high
Northern Ireland's employment rate hit a record high at the end of last year, according to the latest figures.
Statistics from the Department for the Economy's Labour Force Survey show that, by the end of December, the employment rate was 70.3% - however this is still below the UK average of 75.8%.
The unemployment rate in Northern Ireland was 3.8%, below the UK average of 4% and lower than that in the Republic of Ireland (5.3%) and the EU (6.7%).
Levels of economic inactivity, the number working-age people not working and not seeking or available for work, was 26.8% by the end of the 2018 - a annual decrease of 1.6 percentage points.
The report also notes that at 2,575, the number of confirmed redundancies across Northern Ireland in 2018 was 50% higher when compared with the previous year.
Roger Pollen, head of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said the figures demonstrate that, despite the current political and economic uncertainty, business owners are continuing to perform.
"However, there is much to be done to improve the business landscape, as Northern Ireland has now gone for two years without ministers making decisions, which risks us being left behind on skills, infrastructure and business support," he added.
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"Today’s figures show what the private sector can do for the economy, which underlines the need to ensure it is not carelessly damaged.
"Accordingly, the next Northern Ireland Budget which is due shortly should continue to protect our SMEs through the continuation of existing rate reliefs, including industrial de-rating and the Small Business Rate Relief scheme, to ensure the economic landscape isn’t damaged further.
"While today’s employment figures are welcome, we should not lose sight of the fact that the local business environment is currently far from ideal."
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