Figures released for the period February – April 2013 show that the Northern Ireland unemployment rate decreased by 0.6 percentage points over the quarter to 7.8%.
More recent figures for May 2013 show that the number of unemployment benefit claimants decreased by 200 over the month. Recent figures indicate that there has been a fall of 800 in the claimant count over the most recent four months and that this is the first time there has been a fall in four consecutive months since August 2007.
The total number of employee jobs in Northern Ireland was estimated at 693,340 for March 2013, representing a fall of 1,510 over the quarter, and an increase of 1,800 (0.3%) over the year.
Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “The decrease in the Northern Ireland unemployment rate is welcome news and the latest labour market figures for Northern Ireland shows that our current unemployment rate of 7.8% is now equal to that for the UK (7.8%).
“This compares favourably to the equivalent rates in the European Union (10.9%) and Republic of Ireland (14.2%). It is also encouraging that the claimant count has now decreased for four consecutive months for the first time since August 2007.
“The latest employee jobs figures for the first quarter of 2013 recorded a slight fall in Northern Ireland employment levels (-0.2%), though overall the number of jobs remained up over the year. This decrease over the quarter was driven by falls in both the Service, Construction and Manufacturing sectors.”
“The fall of the unemployment rate over the last three months is welcome. While it is too early to read too much into this it is important that we continue to build on these positive signs.
“Just yesterday I announced that Almac Pharma Services was creating 229 new jobs, will deliver almost £5.5 million annually in salaries, bringing an important economic boost which will benefit local people. It is also encouraging to note the recent success of local businesses winning contracts in the key export markets of Brazil.
“I am committed to working towards a better economic future for Northern Ireland, and to ensuring that all of our companies are given the support that they need to seize opportunities and establish international trade and business partnerships.”
Further information on the latest labour market figures is available at: