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Redundancies in Northern Ireland up 35% in one year

The number of redundancies in Northern Ireland over the past year has shot up by 35%, new statistics from the Department for the Economy have shown.

In the past 12 months leading up to the end of August there were 2,865 confirmed redundancies - up from 2,127 for the same period across 2016/17.

The figures are compiled on behalf of the Department by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), the Government's official statistics body.

Reacting to the figures, SDLP economy spokesperson Daniel McCrossan MLA said: "The redundancy increase over the last 12 months is extremely alarming. This is 2,865 families potentially plunged into economic stress and hardship.

"Where the real concern lies is the risk Brexit will pose to the jobs market and likely increase this statistic. But once again, without an Assembly and an Economy Minister to address this, it is only set to worsen."

The Ulster Unionist Party’s economy spokesperson, Alan Chambers MLA, said: “Whilst the most recent statistics are quite encouraging in terms of the overall unemployment figures having reduced to 4 per cent from 5.3 per cent last year, there is no question that the sharp rise in the number of confirmed redundancies – up 35% on the previous 12 months – should be the cause of very real concern.  

“2,865 redundancies in a 12 month period equates to an awful lot of individuals and families facing uncertainty and potential hardship.

“It is more important than ever that we work to attract inward investment and encourage indigenous businesses.

“There is no question that the ongoing political paralysis at Stormont is not helping business confidence. We need to get Stormont back to work so we can help those who have lost their jobs to get back to work.”

The past 12 months in Northern Ireland have seen a number of major employers close their doors, including Poundworld, Toys R Us and Wrightbus.

The closure of Kilroot Power Station at the start of the year saw the loss of 270 jobs.

The Department has said the actual number of redundancies in Northern Ireland could potentially be higher due to the way the figures are recorded.

Legally, firms are only required to notify the authorities if they are set to make 20 or more people redundant - making it likely the official figure is an underestimate.

Of the redundancies in the past year, more than a third (39%) came in the manufacturing sector.

More jobs available

On a positive, the number of jobs in Northern Ireland increased to its highest level on record over the quarter, up to 765,100.

It is an increase of 2,550 over the past quarter and 15,550 over the past year.

This was driven by private sector jobs rising to a record high of 556,250, and the total number of public sector jobs rising to 207,610 (9% below the record peak of the third quarter of 2009).

All industry sectors saw an increase in the number of jobs, but these were particularly prevalent in the service sector.

The unemployment rate in Northern Ireland increased in the second quarter by 0.7 percentage points, bringing it in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

It follows three quarters when Northern Ireland unemployment was below the rest of the UK, and at 4% is still one of the lowest ever recorded for the province.

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