Belfast Telegraph

Over 200 redundancies in March despite fall in Northern Ireland unemployment rate

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

More than 200 people were made redundant in Northern Ireland during March, latest government figures show - an increase from just 17 in February.

The large increase comes despite an overall fall in the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland to 3%, while economic inactivity has also fallen.

And the labour force survey for December to February said the employment rate was also at a record high of 71.2%.

However, there were also 230 confirmed redundancies during March, the data shows - with 106 jobs lost in construction.

And there were 47 redundancies confirmed among financial and insurance businesses, while 43 roles went in wholesale and retail. Manufacturing firms made 24 redundancies.

It's expected that the redundancy numbers will not be reflected in unemployment figures for some months.

Proposed redundancies from mid-March to mid-April were the highest reported since late 2015.

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Meanwhile, despite its growth, Northern Ireland's employment rate is still lower than the UK overall employment rate of 76.1%. The unemployment rate for Northern Ireland was the joint lowest on record, and the same low achieved in the first quarter of 2018.

And while the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) said Northern Ireland's employment market was reflecting wider trends in the UK, it still has the UK's highest rate of economic inactivity, as well as its second lowest employment rate and second lowest unemployment rate. However, Nisra said that the unemployment rate of 3% was now "significantly below" rates in 2017.

Northern Ireland's economic inactivity rate - which includes those who are neither in work nor looking for work - was 26.6%, compared to 20.5% for the UK as a whole.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the growth in the employment rate takes Northern Ireland off the bottom of the league table for employment.

The bottom of the table is now occupied by the north east of England, which has an employment rate of 70%.

Belfast Telegraph