Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland unemployment numbers drop below UK average

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits also fell in July

By John Mulgrew

Unemployment levels in Northern Ireland have dropped below the average rate in the UK.

There was also a further drop in unemployment benefit claimant numbers - down 500 in July.

But the headline figure - highlighting yet another positive sign for the region's downtrodden economy - shows that between April and July, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.5%.

That's now lower than the UK average of 7.8%, which has remained unchanged over the quarter.

Northern Ireland's rate was also lower than that  of the European Union and the Republic.

However despite a glimmer of positivity among the jobs market as a whole, unemployment levels for 18-24 year olds stood at 18.5% during March to May.

The figure is 0.5% higher than the average UK rate.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that the "decrease in the Northern Ireland unemployment rate to below that of the UK is welcome".

"This also compares favourably to the equivalent rates in the European Union (11.0%) and Republic of Ireland (13.6%)," she said.

"The more recent unemployment benefit figures for July continue to show encouraging signs as this is the sixth consecutive monthly decrease, the first time this level of sustained decrease has occurred for nearly six years."

Wednesday's figures are the latest business barometer to point to some form of an upward spiral out for Northern Ireland.

Earlier this week the latest industry report showed that business activity in Northern Ireland rose for the first time since the start of the credit crunch in 2007.

The research showed that the economy surge also delivered employment gains, with the size of the workforce increasing in July, the first upward move since the turn of the year.

For a full breakdown of the official unemployment statistics published by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) click here.


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