Belfast Telegraph

Unemployment figures fall despite Brexit job loss warnings

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has fallen for the fourth consecutive month, despite fears that joblessness would increase after the Brexit vote.

The claimant count - which measure the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits - fell by 600 over the month of July to 36,100, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Across the UK, the number of people claiming these benefits fell by 8,600 to 764,000 despite warnings from the Bank of England had warned that thousands of jobs were at risk following Brexit.

The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics but these are the first figures to be released since the UK's vote to leave the EU.

The key findings from the Labour Market Report in Northern Ireland were:

  • The Labour Force Survey (LFS) measure of unemployment in Northern Ireland decreased marginally over the quarter to April - June 2016. The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits in NI decreased in July 2016.
  • The LFS indicated that the NI unemployment rate for those over 16 decreased by 0.1 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and by 0.5 pps over the year, to 6.0%.
  • The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits  decreased by 600 over the month, to 36,100 in July 2016. This is the fourth consecutive decrease after two consecutive months where the claimant count had increased.
  • The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits has fallen by 28,600 since the most recent peak in February 2013. The number of people leaving the register in the last 12 month period has slowed, from 9,900 to July 2015 to 6,900 in the recent year to July 2016.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work was unchanged over the quarter and increased over the year to 69.0% which remained lower than the UK employment rate of 74.5%.
  • The NI economic inactivity rate (26.4%) was 0.2 pps higher than in the previous quarter and 1.1 pps lower than in the previous year. The NI economic inactivity rate remained noticeably higher than in the UK (21.6%).

Commenting on the report, Federation of Small Businesses Policy Chair for Northern Ireland Wilfred Mitchell OBE said: “FSB welcomes the modest fall of 600 in the number claiming unemployment benefits, however the real concern is the big increase in youth unemployment.

"The solution to tackling this worrying rise will lie with small business employers. Recent research for FSB revealed that small businesses in Northern Ireland employ more people than the entire public sector and all larger businesses combined, so it is within SMEs that our young people are most likely to find employment.”

“We welcome the commitment by Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA, to work on lifting the proportion of those in work in Northern Ireland from its current 69% towards the UK average of 74.5%.

"In striving for this, it is essential that the Northern Ireland Executive invests in further and higher education and in apprenticeships to develop the skills and expertise that businesses need to grow. In turn, SMEs will be able to create high-quality, sustainable and long-term employment opportunities.”

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