Dole queues in Northern Ireland have more than doubled in length since the downturn began, it has emerged. Worsening economic conditions brought another 600 people to the job centre last month, bringing the claimant count to 64,100.
However, job market statistics show that the unemployment rate — contained in the Labour Market Survey — was unchanged at 7.6% for July to September.
The latest claimant count increase was the largest monthly rise in over two years, according to Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey, and highlighted the transformation of the labour market. He said: “Since the credit crunch began in August 2007, Northern Ireland's unemployment register has risen by 40,600 or 173% and brings the total claimant count to 64,100.
“Meanwhile, the number of youth claimants, those aged under 25 years of age, fell by 771 during October. This decline was expected, given the number of youth claimants starting further and higher education last month.”
The economic inactivity rate was 26.9%, the highest of 12 UK regions — although it was down 0.4% over the quarter. Slightly over 53% had been unemployed for one year or more — up 12% over the year. Unemployment among 18-to-24-year-olds was at 19.2% — up 0.2% over the year.
The Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Vernon Coaker MP said the figures showed there was “still a lot of work to be done”.
“Northern Ireland has been hit harder by the recession and will take longer to recover,” he said.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the figures reflected “the current economic climate” and that the rate was lower than the UK, 7.8%, the EU at 10.5% and the Republic, where the rate is 15%. Meanwhile, the Department for Employment and Learning will hold a Jobs Fair on November 21 in the Europa Hotel, Belfast.