Northern Ireland

Unemployment total in Northern Ireland drops by 1,000, figures show

JobCentre building in west Belfast
Image caption The number of unemployed people in Northern Ireland now sits at 39,700

The number of people in Northern Ireland claiming unemployment-related benefits has fallen by 1,000, according to the latest official figures.

The jobless total now stands at 39,700.

The other measure of unemployment, the Labour Force Survey, showed a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.9% - the UK average of is 5.3%.

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: "While it has been a difficult time, the figures contain positive messages from key labour market indicators."

But the figures also show two lingering problem areas are worsening.

Those are the number of long-term unemployed and the number of economically inactive, or people not seeking jobs.

Mr Bell added: "Economic inactivity continued to increase over both the quarter and the year, and this continues to be a persistent issue for our economy."

The Northern Ireland Executive has a strategy for tackling economic inactivity, but it has yet to be implemented.

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