Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland men have longest working week in UK, statistics show

Concerned: Tina McKenzie
Concerned: Tina McKenzie
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Men in Northern Ireland worked the longest hours in the UK over the last year, clocking up 39 hours in an average week, according to a new government report.

On average, men here worked 11.1 more hours per week than women, according to the regional labour market statistics.

Men across the UK as a whole worked 38.9 hours a week.

Full-time workers in the province also worked the longest hours of any UK region, at 38.7 hours per week, compared to an average of 37.2 in the UK as a whole.

Part-time workers toiled for 17.3 hours - also the longest hours for their category across the 12 UK regions, according to the figures for actual hours worked from April 2018 to March this year.

The hours worked by full-time workers here increased by 1.2%.

Meanwhile, unemployment in Northern Ireland has hit a record low of 2.8%, well below the average UK rate of 3.8%.

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The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency also said the employment rate for May to July was 72%.

Economic inactivity, which monitors those who are neither in work nor looking for work, was 25.8%, one of the lowest rates on record.

However, Northern Ireland still has the highest economic inactivity rate of all UK regions.

The lowest economic inactivity rate of 17.2% is in the south-west of England, while the average rate is 20.8%.

Tina McKenzie, Northern Ireland policy chair at the FSB, said: "While the positive employment figures should be welcomed, demonstrating the adaptability of Northern Ireland SMEs who continue to create jobs in a difficult climate, there are other warning signs that all is not well in the local economy."

She cited a finding that business start-ups here had fallen by 15% in 2018 and research from Ulster Bank pointing to a fall in output across all sectors of the economy during August.

She said the best way for politicians to restore confidence for companies was to find an agreement to avoid a no-deal Brexit and restore devolved government here.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey, meanwhile, said he did not believe jobs growth would continue.

"Prior to the last recession, employment peaked in quarter two 2008 before enduring 14 quarters of job losses in the following 15 quarters," he added.

"While a repeat of the last recession is clearly not expected, an end to the current run of unbroken employment growth is."

Belfast Telegraph