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Northern Ireland jobs market shows signs of weakening, warns Ulster Bank

Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey
Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey


There are signs of a weakening jobs market in Northern Ireland even though the unemployment rate is still low, an economist has said.

The labour force survey from the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency said the unemployment rate has fallen to 2.9% from around 4% a year earlier.

However, the rate from June to August was up slightly on the three months before. And total employment had fallen by 11,000 or 1.3% from a record high in quarter two.

At 2.9% over June to August, the unemployment rate here is below that of the UK at 3.9%, the EU rate of 6.3% and the Republic of Ireland rate of 5.3% for July.

There was also a fall in the percentage of people in work, to 71.5% from 72% in the previous period.

The rate of economic inactivity also rose over the quarter, to reach 26.4%, though it had fallen on the year before.

Economic inactivity — which covers people who are neither in work nor looking for work due to factors such as illness, retirement or looking after a family — is the highest in Northern Ireland of any UK region.

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Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the 2.9% jobless rate was a “shade” above the rate of the previous quarter. And the fall in total employment of 11,000 from the record high of quarter two could be a sign of a weakening labour market.

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