Belfast Telegraph

30% of Northern Ireland adults not in work or not looking for job

By Margaret Canning

Local economic inactivity has hit 29% - its highest level in almost seven years - according to the latest figures.

The statistic means that nearly 30% of people between the ages of 16 and 64 are either not in work or not looking for work.

However, the Labour Force Survey for August to October also showed the unemployment rate was at its lowest level since 2007 at 3.9% - down from 5.7% on the same period last year.

But Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the rate was falling "for the wrong reasons", with the contrast between the figures suggesting people are becoming economically inactive instead of finding work.

The employment rate was also down, according to the survey from the Department for the Economy, falling 1.3 percentage points over the year to 68.1%. The number of people actually claiming unemployment benefits also fell by 300 to 29,000 during November.

Mr Ramsey said: "The employment rate has fallen and the economic inactivity rate is rising. The latter hit 29% for the first time in almost seven years, marking a sharp reversal in fortunes from last summer's low.

"One quarter of men of working age and one-third of females are currently neither in work or looking for work."

Danske Bank economist Conor Lambe said policymakers needed to scrutinise the problem of economic inactivity because many people in the included in the category had indicated that they wished to work.

He added: "Looking at the economically inactive people who are of working age, 18%, or around 61,000 people, would like to work. Finding ways to successfully help this relatively large group of people to find a job is not a simple task - the fact is that Northern Ireland has had a high rate of inactivity for some time proves that point - but it should be a key aim of policymakers in the years ahead."

The 'economically inactive' classification covers people who are not working or looking for work because they are ill, retired, caring for relatives or looking after the home, as well as students.

Belfast Telegraph

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