Labour Market Report March 2018

Date published: 21 March 2018

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) results released at 9.30am today indicated that the unemployment rate was 3.2% (November-January 2018), down 0.8 percentage points over the quarter. This was the joint lowest rate on record. The claimant count (experimental) decreased over the month (to February).

Key Points

  • The latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for the period November – January 2018 indicate that, over the quarter, the employment rate increased, while the unemployment rate and economic inactivity rate both decreased. The number of people on the Northern Ireland claimant count (experimental) decreased in February 2018.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) increased over the quarter (1.7 pps) and the year (0.5 pps) to 69.8%. The change over the quarter was statistically significant and is likely to reflect real change.
  • The LFS indicated that the NI unemployment rate (16+) decreased over the quarter and the year to November – January 2018 to 3.2%, the joint lowest on record. The change over the year was statistically significant and is likely to reflect real change. 
  • The equivalent UK unemployment rate decreased over the year by 0.4 and remained steady over the quarter (4.3%). The NI unemployment rate was below the UK unemployment rate for the same period and the European Union (7.3%) rate and Republic of Ireland (6.2%) rate for December 2017.
  • The NI economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were not working and not seeking or available to work) was 27.8%, representing a decrease of 1.2pps over the quarter and an increase of 1.5pps over the year.  Neither change was statistically significant. 
  • The number of people on the NI claimant count (experimental) decreased by 100 over the month to 28,700 in February 2018. Please note these figures include Jobseeker’s Allowance Claimants and those claimants of Universal Credit who were claiming it principally for the reason of being unemployed.
  • Businesses reported that the number of employee jobs increased over the quarter (5,330) and increased over the year (15,090) to December 2017 (756,030). Private sector jobs are now at a series high, with an increase reported over the quarter (4,820) and year (13,840). Public sector jobs now stand at 9.5% below the series peak in Q3 2009.
  • Full report available here


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