Northern Ireland

Unemployment benefit: December shows drop of 800 in number of claimants

The output of the services sector, which is the biggest part of economy, fell by 0.5% compared to the previous quarter
Image caption Despite this longer-term trend, the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits dropped by 800 in December

The latest jobs figures for Northern Ireland are showing evidence of a slowdown in the economy.

Unemployment fell at a reduced pace in 2016, compared to 2015.

Despite this longer-term trend, the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits dropped by 800 in December.

This is the ninth monthly decrease in a row. Data published through the Department for the Economy shows the jobless total now stands at 32,700.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the figures contain "positive messages".

The unemployment rate increased slightly in the quarter between last September and October to 5.6%.

The UK rate meanwhile decreased to 4.8%.

In 2016, 5,900 people left the unemployment register, compared to 11,100 in 2015.

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