Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland job number reaches record high 'despite no-deal Brexit threat' and Executive absence, says FSB

The number of jobs in Northern Ireland is on the rise, while more people are in work than ever before.
The number of jobs in Northern Ireland is on the rise, while more people are in work than ever before.

The number of jobs in Northern Ireland has reached a record level of 773,750, according to the latest government report.

And the labour force survey also said Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate remains unchanged at 3.5% for the end of last year.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the latest figures show small and medium enterprises are continuing to create employment "despite the perpetual threat of a no-deal Brexit" at the end of the month and the continued absence of devolved government.

While the Northern Ireland unemployment rate was below the UK's 3.9% rate, NI’s rate of long-term unemployment — those on the dole for more than a year —was 46.9%, compared to the UK’s rate of 26.7%.

Meanwhile, the employment rate was also up to 70.9%, and the economic inactivity rate was also down by 1.6 percentage points.

During February, 14 people were made redundant — the lowest monthly total since August 2006. But confirmed redundancies over the last year, at 2,354, were up 30% than the previous 12 months.

There were 565,480 private sector jobs, an increase over the quarter and over the year.

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"The continued improvements in the NI labour market are consistent with the UK experience, where unemployment and inactivity are lowest on record and employment is at a record high," The Department for Economy said in a statement.

"However, it is worth noting, when compared to the other UK regions, NI has the fifth lowest unemployment rate, the lowest employment rate and highest inactivity rate."

The FSB's Roger Pollen said the statistics painted a positive picture of the Northern Ireland economy.

He said there was a "clear feeling firms were getting on and growing their businesses, in spite of the uncertain landscape which surrounds them".

“However, it would certainly be foolish to suggest that the ‘garden is rosy’ for small businesses," he added.

"Their situation could be improved by agreement being reached to avoid a no-deal Brexit on March 29, while the return of a devolved Executive could create the conditions for action to be taken in crucial areas, such as enhanced rates relief, skills and infrastructure investment.”

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