NI unemployment total highest since 1997 at 60,000

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There has been another rise in unemployment in Northern Ireland, with young people finding it hardest to get jobs.

The number of benefit claimants signing on in September increased by 500 on the previous month.

This brings the total number out of work in Northern Ireland to 60,900, the highest level since September 1997.

The number of unemployed people, aged 18 to 24, is estimated at 18%, meaning almost one in five cannot find a job.

The overall unemployment rate in Northern Ireland is 7.6%.

In the last year, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit has risen by 3,000.

Across the UK as a whole, unemployment has now reached 2.57m - which according to official figures is a 17-year high.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster called the increase "disappointing news" and said work was being done to create new jobs.

"It is clear from this month's figures that, whilst our primary focus must remain on creating the higher value jobs that drive productivity and competitiveness, there remains a very real issue with getting people either back or into work," she said.

"The pipeline of projects is strong and I expect more announcements to be made in the coming weeks, from businesses large and small across Northern Ireland."

The director of CBI Northern Ireland, Nigel Smyth, said the high unemployment among young people was a "major concern" and called on Stormont to act.

"It is vital that the executive does everything it can to support businesses to grow and create jobs, and help get young people into employment," he said.

Angela McGowan, the Northern Bank's chief economist, called job creation in Northern Ireland "virtually impossible" in the global economic conditions.

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