From the 1st April 2011, the responsibility for the collection of data and production of official labour market and economic statistics transferred from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), an agency of the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP).
Labour Market Summary (seasonally adjusted)
Seasonally adjusted Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for Northern Ireland for the period October – December 2013 showed an increase over the quarter in the number of unemployed and economically inactive while the number of employed decreased. The seasonally adjusted claimant count in January 2014 decreased by 600 over the month to 58,700. There were 290 proposed redundancies notified in the latest reference period and 137 confirmed redundancies in January 2014.
The number of persons in employment in the period October – December 2013 was estimated at 807,000. This estimate decreased by 1,000 over the quarter but increased by 8,000 over the year. The employment rate for those aged 16-64 was estimated at 67.6%, this increased by 0.4 percentage points over the quarter and by 0.6 percentage points over the year. The employment rate in NI remained below the UK average (72.1%) and was the second lowest rate among the twelve UK regions.
The unemployment rate for the period October -December 2013 was estimated at 7.4%. This estimate increased by 0.1 percentage points over the quarter but decreased by 0.5 percentage points over the year. The number of unemployed persons was estimated at 64,000, up 1,000 over the quarter and down 4,000 over the year.
Unadjusted figures show that 47.5% of the unemployed have been unemployed for 1 year or more – down 11.5 percentage points over the year. They also estimate the unemployment rate for 18 - 24 year olds at 23.2% – up 2.8 percentage points over the year.
The seasonally adjusted number of economically inactive persons in the period October – December 2013 was estimated at 560,000. This figure has increased by 1,000 over the quarter and 5,000 over the year.
The NI economic inactivity rate for those aged16-64 stood at 26.9%. This is significantly higher than the UK average rate (22.1%) and is the highest of the twelve UK regions. Unadjusted figures estimate that 27% of the economically inactive, aged 16-64, in NI are students, 27% are sick/disabled, 25% are looking after the family/home, 12% are retired and 8% are ‘other’ reason.
Unadjusted figures, of all those economically inactive, show that while 91% of the inactive do not want work, the remaining 9% (53,000) want employment but do not satisfy the full ILO job search criteria (by actively seeking work and being available to start a job).
Estimates from the LFS have an associated degree of statistical error as they are based on a sample of the population. The annual changes for the main LFS categories of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity were tested for statistical significance. The results showed that none of the annual changes in the estimates were statistically significant i.e. the recorded change did not exceed the variability expected from a sample survey of this size (see Section 9 of the Labour Market Report for details).
Unemployment Regional Comparison
The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (7.4%) is above the overall UK average rate (7.2%) and was the sixth highest rate among the twelve UK regions. The NI rate was below the European Union (10.9%) and Republic of Ireland (12.3%) rates for November 2013. Comparable figures for the three months to November 2013 estimate the NI unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds at 22.5%, compared to a UK average rate of 18.2%.
The more recent seasonally adjusted claimant count decreased by 600 from last month’s revised total. It now stands at 58,700 (6.5% of the workforce) in January 2014. Over the year the Claimant Count in NI has decreased by 6,200 (9.6%) and the workforce unemployment rate has decreased by 0.7 percentage points. Latest figures show that there has been a fall of 2,900 in the claimant count over the most recent four months and that this is the first time there has been a fall in twelve consecutive months since April 2000.
Claimant Count Regional Comparison
The seasonally adjusted claimant count rate in NI (6.5%) was higher than the UK average rate (3.6%) and was the highest rate among the twelve UK regions. This is the 46th consecutive month that NI has had the highest or second highest UK region unemployment rate, on this measure. The monthly decrease in NI claimants (1.0%) was lower than the UK average decrease (2.2%) during the same period. The annual decrease in NI claimants (9.6%) was the lowest decrease of twelve UK regions (the annual decrease in the UK was 21.2%).
Claimant count rates for District Council Areas
Unadjusted numbers as a percentage of the resident working age population show that the highest rates at January 2014 were in Derry (8.5%), Strabane (7.6%), Belfast (7.0%), and Limavady (6.5%). The only area to show an increase in claimant numbers over the year was Strabane (0.5%). The areas that showed the biggest decrease was Ballymoney (18.7%), Larne (18.6%) and Moyle (18.4%). For further District Council information please see section 3 of the Labour Market Report.
Please note that although there is a large degree of overlap between the LFS and claimant count measures of unemployment, they measure unemployment using different criteria. While they are broadly consistent in terms of longer term trends, the results may differ in any given period. . A full explanation of differences between the LFS and claimant count definitions of unemployment are provided at the following link
It should also be noted that while the claimant count provides a complete census of all those in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance the LFS is a survey based measure which has an associated statistical margin of error around all estimates, including the level of unemployment.
There were 290 proposed redundancies notified during the period mid January 2014 to mid February 2014. This compares to 103 proposed redundancies that were notified in the previous monthly period.
There were 137 confirmed redundancies in the month of January Over the latest twelve month period there were a total of 1,909 confirmed redundancies, a decrease of 45% from the previous year (3,453).
Over the latest twelve month period there were a total of 2,159 proposed redundancies, a decrease of 48% from the previous year (4,142). Currently there are 1,032 outstanding redundancies (that is, proposed but not confirmed), which is 13% lower than this time last year (1,189).
Note that since all proposed redundancies do not actually take place, the confirmed total provides a better indication of real job losses.
Quarterly Employment Survey
The estimated seasonally adjusted employee jobs total in Northern Ireland at September 2013 was 703,020. This represents an increase (+3,290 jobs) from the revised figure for the previous quarter and represents an increase of 8,620 jobs over the year (see Section 9 of the Labour Market Report for details of QES revisions).
The seasonally adjusted quarterly change consisted of increases in the Service Sector (+2,200 jobs), in the Manufacturing Sector (+690 jobs), in the Other Industries Sector (+80 jobs) and an increase in the Construction Sector (+320 jobs). Over the same period the Public Sector decreased by 40 jobs while the private sector increased by 3,110 jobs.
Over the year to September 2013, the public sector increased by 0.5% (+1,100 jobs) compared to an increase of 1.6% (+7,570 jobs) in the private sector.
In the three months to November 2013, the average actual weekly hours worked in NI was 34.1 hours – higher than the UK average (33.3) for the same period. For full-time workers, in Northern Ireland, the average actual number of hours worked was 38.8 and was below that for the UK (38.9). For part-time workers in Northern Ireland, the average actual numbers of hours worked stood at 17.9 hours whereas the respective figure stood at 16.6 hours in the UK.
Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE)
Earnings results for April 2013, which were released on 12 December 2013, show that yearly growth in median gross weekly earnings for all employees (i.e. both full- and part-time) in NI was 1.7% (to £367), compared to the UK where earnings increased by 2.6% (to £417). NI full-time employees’ gross weekly earnings at April 2013 were £460, which was 88.9% of the figure in the UK (£518). NI full-time earnings increased by 0.5% over the period, compared with an increase of 2.2% in the UK.
Full-time weekly private sector earnings in NI increased over the year by 2.3%, to £403. This represented no change to the NI/UK private sector pay gap which remains at 82.1% of the UK figure. Part-time private sector earnings grew 7.9% to £132.