Belfast Telegraph

UK jobless total declines but our dole queue grows

By Margaret Canning

Dole queues are growing in Northern Ireland even though they are falling in the UK as a whole, latest government statistics show.

The figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency (Nisra) said the number of dole claimants has grown by 5% over the last year.

In July 63,200 people claimed jobseekers' allowance in Northern Ireland, up 400 on June.

The 5% annual increase in Northern Ireland was more than twice the 2.3% annual increase in the UK.

Meanwhile, the Labour Market Survey for April to June showed an unemployment rate of 7.6%, up by nearly 1% on January to March. UK-wide, the unemployment rate fell from 8.2% to 8% during the same period.

The youth unemployment rate in Northern Ireland has also mushroomed 5% over the year to 22.3%.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster (below) said the disappointing statistics came at a time of "weak external demand".

"This year the eurozone continues to face a very challenging economic climate and the level of growth in the global economy has been disappointing.

"Last month the UK also reported three consecutive quarters of falling output. We therefore need to place the latest unemployment figures in this wider context of weak external demand."

But Johnny Andrews, enterprise spokesman at the NI Conservatives, accused the minister of a "complacent attitude" to unemployment.

He said the Executive should implement enterprise zones and consider rates relief to exporters or emergency loans for SMEs.

"The truth is that this Executive is not business friendly, it is not growth friendly and it is failing to create jobs.

"Arlene Foster should drop the excuses, drop the complacent attitude and start to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland. "

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said Northern Ireland's claimant count was now at its highest level since May 1997.

At 6.9% the claimant count rate was the second highest of the regions - the highest was the north east of England with 7.7%.

Ian Coulter, chairman of the CBI in Northern Ireland, said the figures for Northern Ireland were "extremely disappointing if not unsurprising".

"The 0.9% increase in unemployment on the last quarter shows we are continuing to fall behind Great Britain in terms of recovery."

The CBI said employers should be aware of monetary incentives for recruiting people who had been unemployed for 13 weeks or more.

factfile

Increase in claimant count levels by occupation from July 2007 to July 2012

* Sales -amp; Customer Service Occupations - 7,775

* Personal Service Occupations - 3,265

* Skilled Trade Occupations - 7,880

* Process, Plant -amp; Machine Operatives - 5,100

* Managers -amp; Senior Officials - 715

* Associate Professional -amp; Technical Occupations - 2,025

* Administrative -amp; Secretarial Occupations - 2,925

* Elementary Occupations - 8,315

* Professional Occupations - 1275

Source: Ulster Bank and ONS

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