Belfast Telegraph

Dole queues shrink as unemployment in Northern Ireland falls below 6%

by margaret canning

The number of people claiming jobseekers allowance fell during June, the latest figures show. There were 36,700 people in Northern Ireland signing on during the month, which was down 600 on May's figures.

And there are now 7,200 fewer people signing on compared to June in 2015, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).

The separate labour force survey also shows a fall in joblessness.

The unemployment rate was down to just below 6% during March to May - a fall of 0.4 percentage points.

The employment rate was up by 0.2 percentage points to 69%.

There were 833,000 people in work - which was up 19,000 on March to May last year.

The survey covers a period before the June 23 vote to leave the EU - and Danske Bank chief economist Angela McGowan said the strong job creation may not continue in the post-referendum era.

"The wider economic climate has changed considerably since June 23 and it is not reasonable to expect strong job creation data to feed through in future months as the UK untangles itself from the EU," she said.

"Without doubt employment levels in both the UK and the local economy will be best served if the UK manages to maintain a very close relationship with the EU through this new Brexit process."

And she urged employers to work hard to stay competitive.

"This involves driving up levels of innovation, networking, building collaborative relationships, investing in training and technology and keeping a close eye on costs."

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton welcomed the jobs numbers.

"Our recovery has been characterised by strong employment growth and I am encouraged the latest figures indicate this remains the case."

Following a record low for economic inactivity - those who are neither in work nor actively looking for it - levels had increased by 0.2 percentage points on the quarter before to 26.6%. That was down 0.1 percentage points on 2015 though the province remains saddled with the highest inactivity rate in the UK, where the average is 21.6%.

Belfast Telegraph