The latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for the period January - March 2017 indicate that over the quarter, the employment rate decreased, the unemployment rate was unchanged and the economic inactivity rate increased. The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits in NI decreased in April 2017.
- The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) decreased over the quarter (1.5 pps) and over the year (0.8 pps) to 68.4%. The decrease over the quarter (but not over the year) was statistically significant and is likely to reflect a real change albeit from a previously reported historic high. The January - March 2017 employment rate returns to levels last reported in 2015.
- The LFS indicated that the NI unemployment rate (16+) was unchanged over the quarter to January - March 2017 and decreased by 0.8 pps over the year, to 5.3%. This was the lowest rate since October - December 2008. The equivalent UK unemployment rate was down over the quarter and over the year to 4.6%.
- The decrease in the NI unemployment rate over the year was not statistically significant.
- The NI unemployment rate was below the European Union (8.0%) rate and Republic of Ireland (6.6%) rate for February 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 27.7%, representing an increase of 1.6pps over the quarter and 1.5 pps over the year. The increase over the quarter (but not over the year) was statistically significant and is likely to reflect a real change albeit from a relatively low rate in the previous quarter. The January-March 2017 inactivity rate is similar to the rate last reported in July - September 2015.
- Full report available here.