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Northern Ireland unemployment figures drop for 26th month

Northern Ireland unemploymentFigures released today for the period November – January 2015 show that the Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey unemployment rate was 6.0% – a decrease of 0.3 percentage points over the quarter and 1.5 percentage points over the year.

More recent figures for February 2015 show that the number of claimants in receipt of unemployment related benefits stood at 46,200 and decreased by 1,700 over the month. There has been a fall of 11,400 in the unemployment claimant figures over the last 12 months.

The total number of employee jobs in Northern Ireland was estimated at 720,130 for December 2014, representing an increase of 1,280 (0.2%) over the quarter, and an increase of 11,990 (1.7%) over the year. This is now the 11th consecutive quarterly increase in employee jobs.

Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “The decrease in the unemployment rate and the number of unemployment related benefit claimants, alongside the sustained increase in employee jobs are all positive signals of growth in the labour market.

“The number of claimants has fallen in each of the last 26 months, which is the most sustained decrease since the series began.”

Fourth quarter results from the seasonally adjusted Index of Production (IOP) show that output levels increased by 1.9% over the quarter and 2.7% over the year in real terms.

Arlene Foster added: “Northern Ireland’s high quality skilled workforce is a key factor in attracting new business and in developing export opportunities.

“My aim is to ensure the Executive collectively supports a business environment that is both attractive to inward investors and encourages locally owned companies to grow. This is clearly bearing fruit, with significant announcements within the past month including over 400 new jobs at Kainos, 50 jobs from new investor Intelligent Environments and 55 new positions and a £2.3million investment by Willowbrook Fine Foods in Killinchy.

“These are positive indicators for our local economy and, together with colleagues in Invest Northern Ireland, I will continue to do all I can to ensure this trend continues.”

Further information on the latest labour market figures is available from the Northern Ireland Executive website.