Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds more join the dole queue in last month

By Margaret Canning

Unemployment is continuing to rise in Northern Ireland with another 400 people joining the dole queue last month.

A total of 62,900 people claimed Jobseeker's Allowance in Northern Ireland in June, an increase of 3,200 or 5.4% on a year earlier.

There are predictions that the the claimant count will peak at 64,000 next year.

Yesterday the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) also revealed the results of the quarterly labour market survey along with other business performance statistics.

At 6.9%, the unemployment rate for March to May was up 0.1% on the quarter before but down 0.2% on a year earlier.

The unemployment rate for 18 to 24-year-olds was 21.4% - up 4.5% over the year.

And the province remained stuck as the UK region with the highest rate of economic inactivity at 27.3%.

Another 3,000 people joined the ranks of the economically inactive over the quarter.

Northern Bank chief economist Angela McGowan said: "With economic stagnation and a far from dynamic labour market, unemployment levels remain remarkably resilient. However, the longer economic problems persist, the higher the chances of further job losses."

She said high public sector employment in Northern Ireland had traditionally been a buffer but added: "That safety blanket could rapidly erode if the UK coalition Government does not up its game when it comes to pulling the UK economy out of the current double-dip...

"Northern Bank forecasts suggest that unemployment in the local economy will peak at almost 64,000 claimants next year."

Other economic figures held mixed tidings. Output from the production sector rose 0.9% in the first three months of 2011 and 2.2% over the year.

But Northern Ireland's index of the services sector told a story of falling output - down 1.6% over the quarter, compared to a rise of 0.1% in the UK as a whole.

It has fallen almost continuously for the past two years.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the production sector's increasing output. "The improvements in industry output over the quarter and year are particularly welcome. We have undoubted strengths in advanced engineering and materials, agri-food, life sciences and information technology that we need to continue to market overseas."


The unemployment rate for young people - up 4.5% over the year