Northern Ireland Labour Market Statistics

Wednesday 16 May, 2018 Written by 
Northern Ireland Labour Market Statistics

Labour market statistics published

The labour market statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

Labour Force Survey (LFS) unemployment decreased over the quarter and the year

  • * The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period January-March 2018 was 3.1%, the lowest on record. The unemployment rate decreased by 0.8 percentage points (pps) from the previous quarter and 2.1 pps over the year (from 5.3%). The annual rate change was statistically significant, i.e. the recorded changes exceeded the variability expected from a sample survey of this size and would, therefore, likely reflect a real change.
  • * The latest NI unemployment rate (3.1%) was below the UK average of 4.2%, which was the joint lowest on record. It was the lowest unemployment rate of the UK regions and was below the European Union (7.1%) rate in February 2018 and the Republic of Ireland (6.1%) rate for March 2018.
  • * LFS estimates for January-March 2018 showed that 51% of those unemployed in NI were long-term unemployed (i.e. unemployed for one year or more), compared to 25.3% in the UK.

LFS employment rate and inactivity rate increased over the year

  • * There was an increase (1.0 pps) in the employment rate (69.7%) over the quarter and over the year (1.3pps).  The change in the employment rate was not statistically significant over the quarter or the year. However, the increase in the employment rate from 2013 rates is statistically significant.    
  • * The economic inactivity rate (28%) decreased over the quarter by 0.4 pps and increased by 0.3 pps over the year. Neither change was statistically significant.

NI Claimant Count (Experimental Series) increased over the month

  • * In April 2018, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count (which includes some out-of-work claimants of Universal Credit) was 29,000 (3.2% of the workforce). This represents an increase of 200 from the previous month’s revised figure.

Confirmed redundancies decreased over the year

  • * The Department received confirmation that 308 redundancies took place in April 2018. Although this was the highest monthly total since November 2016, there was a decrease of approximately a third in the number of confirmed redundancies (2,067) over the year to the end of April 2018.


  • * Overall, the NI results show an improvement over the quarter in unemployment, employment and inactivity rates.
  • * At 3.1%, the unemployment rate is now at its lowest rate since records began in 1995 and is significantly below rates one year ago. Furthermore, the NI rate is below the UK unemployment rate (4.2%) for the third consecutive quarter after consistently being above UK rates since the end of 2013. The employment rate (69.7%), while one of the highest recorded rates, is below the UK rate (72.3%) and remains the lowest of the UK regions.
  • * The economic inactivity rate decreased over the quarter but increased over the year. Although one of the highest rates recorded since 2010 and the highest rate of the UK regions, the current inactivity rate is significantly below peak rates recorded in mid-2009.
  • * The improvements in the local labour market are similar to that of the UK labour market, which is reporting the highest employment rate and lowest unemployment rates on record. In contrast to the NI experience, the UK results also show the lowest inactivity rates on reco 

ABC Note: 

1. The detailed statistical bulletin is available at:

2. The Labour Market Report is a monthly overview of key labour market statistics. It includes figures from the Labour Force Survey, the claimant count (people claiming unemployment related benefits), the Quarterly Employment Survey, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings and official redundancy data.

3. From March 2018 the NI claimant count figures include Jobseeker’s Allowance Claimants and those claimants of Universal Credit who were claiming it principally for the reason of being unemployed. This is experimental and is calculated on the same basis as the GB Claimant Count.  For more information please refer to the Further Information section of the Labour Market Report.

4. The official measure of unemployment is the Labour Force Survey. This measure of unemployment relates to people without a job who were available for work and had either looked for work in the last four weeks or were waiting to start a job. This is the International Labour Organisation definition. Labour Force Survey estimates are subject to sampling error. This means that the exact figure is likely to be contained in a range surrounding the estimate quoted. For example, the number of unemployed persons is likely to fall within 0.9% of the quoted estimate (i.e. between 2.2% and 4.1%).

5. Employee jobs figures are taken from the Quarterly Employment Survey a survey of public sector organisations and private sector firms.

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