Belfast Telegraph

Unemployment benefit claimant numbers fall

There has been a fall in the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits, according to latest figures.

According to the latest government statistics, April's jobless total now stands at 64,300 - a decrease of 200 from the previous month.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment figure now stands at 8.1% - slightly above the UK average of 7.8% but well below the European Union's 10.9% and the 14.2% unemployment rate in the Republic.

Economy minister Arlene Foster said the decline in benefit claimants was a positive sign amid a difficult global economy.

"Although there has been a rise in the unemployment rate over the quarter, the number of people on the claimant count in February has decreased," the minister said.

"It is encouraging that the claimant count has now decreased for three consecutive months for the first time since August 2007."

More than 60% of those unemployed in Northern Ireland have been out of work for a year or more - up 13.7% from a year ago.

The unemployment rate for young people aged between 18 and 24-years-old also increased by 3.3% to 21.1% over the past year.

There were 181 confirmed job losses in April 2013.

But the figures come after several jobs announcements injected a welcome boost into the Northern Ireland economy over the past week.

Yesterday, US-owned technology company Allstate said it was creating 650 new jobs in Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane.

The international consultancy firm Deloitte also announced hundreds of new posts and the Dungannon-based meat plant Linden Foods said it was delivering 179 new jobs.

Mrs Foster said the Executive was committed to creating employment opportunities.

"My continued aim is to ensure the Executive collectively supports a business environment that is attractive to inward investors and encourages locally-owned companies to grow," the minister said.

"Invest Northern Ireland are currently at the midway point in their corporate plan, and they are in a very strong position to reach and in many cases exceed the targets set.

"This, along with the recent announcements, is further proof that we have the people, skills and technology to support the business needs of major companies."

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