Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland unemployment rate shows slight rise

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The number of unemployed people in Northern Ireland rose slightly between April and June, according to official figures.

Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) said the unemployment rate was 3.1%.

That is up 0.2% from an historic low of 2.9% in the first quarter of 2019.

The number of people out of work remains historically low and below the UK rate of 3.9%.

Meanwhile, the number of people in work - the employment rate - hit a record high of 72.2%.

This is a measurement of the percentage of working-age adults in employment.

During the recession, the employment rate fell as low as 64%.

Northern Ireland continues to have a significantly higher rate of economic inactivity compared to the UK average, although the picture is improving.

Economic inactivity is a measurement of those people who are not in work and not looking for work; that includes students, retired people and sick or disabled people.

The rate in Northern is 25.5% compared to the UK average of 20.8%.

Nisra said in a statement: "Despite a marginal quarterly increase, the Northern Ireland unemployment rate remains below the UK rate and one of the lowest on record.

'Lagging indicator'

"Decreases in economic inactivity since late 2017 indicate that changes in labour market status have not been limited to those working or looking for work, but also for those who were previously outside the labour force.

"It is worth noting, however, when compared to the other UK regions, NI has the second lowest employment rate and highest inactivity rate."

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said: "Employment growth remained robust. However, the labour market is a lagging indicator of economic conditions."

"In recent months there has been a marked deterioration in business conditions. Furthermore, the economic outlook from both a Brexit and global perspective has darkened."

"In time this will filter into the labour market. Indeed we have already seen some tentative signs of the labour market showing signs of weakening or at least coming off the boil," he added.

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