More recent figures for December 2013 show that the number of unemployment benefit claimants decreased by 600 over the month. There has been a fall of 5,400 in the claimant figures over the last 11 months.
Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “While the unemployment rate remains unchanged this quarter, the number of unemployment benefit claimants has fallen for the 11th consecutive month.”
Statistics released today for the Index of Services and Production were positive with both showing increased output.
Arlene Foster continued: “There is good news in relation to output in the services and production sectors, which have increased over the latest quarter and year. Figures from the Index of Services showed an increase of 1.4% in Quarter 3 2013, while the increase in production sector output was more marked, at 4.3%.
“Production sector output has increased for three consecutive quarters and output in the Service Sector has grown in the last two quarters.
“Reflecting the positive message from the output measures, the Ulster Bank’s Purchasing Managers’ Index reported another strong expansion of private sector output in December. New business saw another solid expansion with exports growing at the quickest pace since October 2007.
“We have consistently been seeing positive signs of growth in the local economy from a range of economic data, including from recent research by the Danske Bank which suggested that consumer confidence locally is now at a record high.”
“Undoubtedly this increase in consumer sentiment is linked to the wider improvement seen across the economy, with many people in employment now less apprehensive about their financial future. Initiatives such as Invest Northern Ireland’s Jobs Fund have been instrumental in helping local companies to create job opportunities quickly and get people into employment.
“While economic optimism is on the rise this is not a time for complacency, and it remains as important as ever that we continue to build on the progress to date by expanding our existing markets and seeking opportunities overseas.”
The latest Index of Services report is available at