The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has welcomed the decrease in unemployment figures but expressed concern over the increase in Economic Inactivity.
“However, it is a cause for concern is that our Economic Inactivity figures have increased by 10,000 and are still the highest in the UK. While many of the inactive are students and those with caring responsibilities, we still have to address this major problem if we are to move our economy forward.”
Foster Welcomes Further Decrease In Unemployment Rate
Figures released today (Wednesday 14 August) for the period April – July 2013 show that the Northern Ireland unemployment rate decreased by 0.7 percentage points over the quarter to 7.5%.
More recent figures for July 2013 show that the number of unemployment benefit claimants decreased by 500 over the month. There has been a fall of 2,500 in the claimant figures over the last 6 months.
Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “The decrease in the Northern Ireland unemployment rate to below that of the UK (7.8%) is welcome. This also compares favourably to the equivalent rates in the European Union (11.0%) and Republic of Ireland (13.6%).
“The more recent unemployment benefit figures for July continue to show encouraging signs as this is the sixth consecutive monthly decrease, the first time this level of sustained decrease has occurred for nearly six years. “
The Minister continued: “The labour market figures reported today reflect Northern Ireland’s strengthening economic position. The recent UK Trade and Investment report highlighted NI as one of the most successful regions within the UK, for inward investment.
“Our strategy aims to continue to develop high value-added, quality jobs as well as encouraging investment to further demonstrate that Northern Ireland is a great place to do business.
“The Jobs Fund was established by Invest NI in direct response to the downturn. The aim of the Fund is to help local businesses create jobs quickly and to date, it has promoted over 5,750 jobs and created over 3,150. I would encourage businesses that have the ability to create jobs to explore how the Jobs Fund could support their growth plans. Additional support is also available from Invest NI for young people and those not currently in employment, education or training who wish to start a business.”
Further information on the latest labour market figures is available in the Labour Market Statistical Press Release (see http://www.detini.gov.uk/deti-