NI has lowest unemployment rate in the World!

Yep, you’ve never had it so good! According to the latest comparative figures, Northern Ireland leads the world in the league for the lowest unemployment rate. It has the lowest ILO measure of unemployment of all countries listed – that includes all EU countries, the US, Canada, and Japan. Reader Howard notes: “I know there are caveats with all data but it’s a pretty striking headline stat for an economy so commonly derided”.

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  • Carnhill

    On the flipside to that, we probably have the highest long-term sick rate in the world ! Not to mention the thousands of people scratchin their arses whilst supposedly ’employed’ in the Civil Service !

  • seabhac siulach

    It cannot be a coincidence that the 26 counties has the second lowest rate…(almost identical to that in the six counties). A case of the celtic tiger taking up the unemployment slack of the six counties? Any statistics on the number of people from the six countes migrating south every year?

  • Shore Road Resident

    But this can’t be true!
    How will people moan about being oppressed?
    (See post above)

  • ppffff..

    Yes unemployment for people who studied computers, engineering, medicine, law, accountancy and all that Celtic Tiger crap.

    However, for silly people like me who studied the arts, politics and literature, recruitment agencys are the best employment we’re ever going to get.

    The writing on the toilet wall was right “Arts students take your degree” with an arrow pointed to the toilet paper.

  • Robert Keogh

    No Mick,

    NI has the lowest calculated rate of unemployment which is almost unrelated to the real number of unemployed. Every govt uses different methodologies for calculating the rate and they are constantly changing. Reminds of the Sesame Street bit about “one of these doesn’t belong with the others” except in this case “none of these belong with the others”. Remember – compare like with like – like teacher taught you in primary school.

  • seabhac siulach

    I believe the 6 counties also leads the world in percentage of GDP resulting from central government (public) spending, >60%. So, somewhat like an old Eastern European iron curtain democracy, where I also believe unemployment used to be low…

  • Mick Fealty

    Robert,

    Thanks for the caveat. Though I’m sure you quite understand that’s why I linked to an explanation of the weakness of the ILO measure.

    Jimmy’s caveat is rather more instructive.

  • Crataegus

    Still recovering from the shock but suppose it is difficult to get staff through most sectors.

    Certainly we are sucking in large numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe and in the Health sector Asia and Africa. Parts of Belfast are fast becoming Polish and Estonian quarters. The Polish community is now larger than the Chinese community and growing rapidly. Great to see, really positive attitudes.

    The real problem is more how people are employed and how much they earn.

    If the economy is really that buoyant perhaps now is a good a time for some adjustment as it will enable us to move away from over dependence on the government sector without undue pain.

    We still need to address the needs of business to build a more self reliant economy.

    Jimmy

    I actually feel for many students who borrow to take degrees that are of dubious benefit. My suggestion is use your talents and have a go at setting up your own business. Look for a niche or opportunity, it doesn’t have to be anything terribly grand involving capital plant and equipment. The worst that can happen is bankruptcy, but better that than sitting in a dead end job. If it is a business that requires funds unless you have rich parents you’re sunk and you will experience the first problem with the NI Economy:- available funds for investment in business. Yes you can run up all sorts of debt on plastic buying frippery but look for money for business and it gets tough. At the very least buy a house, any house, and let out the rooms to build a bit of capital!

  • Yes, and the Soviet Union had 0% unemployment.

    I’m not sure this is much of a challenge to those who deride the economy here.

  • Keith M

    Let’s be honest here, no one who wants to work in either Northern Ireland or the Republic is without a job. The only people who are “unemployed” are those that don’t want to work or are choosey as to what they will work at. It’s pointless getting into a pissing contest about comparitive rates.

  • Dr Strangelove

    The problem I have found with Belfast / NI in general is the absolute lack of entrepreneurial spirit in the populace. Although things have changed since I left Queens in the early 90s, one did not leave education thinking that there was a world of opportunity on your doorstep, even less so if you were armed with an arts degree.

    I am not sure if it is still the case but Belfast had the most educated dish washing force in Europe.. coincidentally all arts degree graduates.

    As Northern Ireland has such a narrow base of employment, if your degree or education in general does not teach you a particular skill, over and above behing able to think coherently etc, you are placed at a great disadvantage in the jobs market.

    The solution is really quite simply, if you are driven enough you will make it… as Tebbit said get on your bike …. London and Dublin are not that far away and your education will count for more than it does in NI.

  • John

    Now that the terrorists have been defeated and forced to surrender by the citizens of NI, and that the nationalists will now start to work together with unionists to govern NI, I can only assume that the position of NI will strengthen within the UK, and the ecomony of NI will grow and grow.

  • Brian Boru

    Misleading as a guide to true economic fundamentals, because:

    A: 40% are employed by the State. Their wages cannot grow to the extent that they would in a strong private-sector. Subsidy cuts are on the way and that will test the underlying strength (or otherwise) of the economy.

    B: Per capita income is $19,900 compared to $34,400 in the Republic.

    C: The number of jobs in the state-sector hinders economic growth and income growth because it is just regurgitating a UK govt subsidy. Public-sector workers are disincentivised from setting up their own businesses and competing in the global economy.

    D: 150,000 jobs have been brought to the Republic by multinationals since 1991 compared to 15,000 in the North.

  • scotty

    I can’t help but feel that if you want more jobs, and a better economy, then you should elect representatives that will cooperate with each other and attract foreign investment. Most of the people in the world don’t personally know anyone from NI, and they are left to believe that your elected leaders truly represent your beliefs and ethics. While this may or may not be necessarily true, Americans face the same delimma. For example, I don’t agree with Bush on most things, but many in Europe would openly think that I am an arrogant cowboy simply because my country elected Bush, and I am from that country. My comment is not to bring up a matter of manners, but rather to say that you must elect respectable engauging leaders if you wish to be seriously considered for foreign investment.

  • paddyjoe

    post no12 is on a few threads. is this guy for real. saddo

  • Yer Woman

    How do I go about getting one of those jobs that pay £30,000+ per year for scratching your arse and point blank refusing to work with your polar opposite, despite the detrimental effect this has on the employment prospects of the rest of the country?

    Our MLA’s are the biggest benefit fraudsters of them ALL.

  • So, swelling the ranks of the few unemployed with our MLA’s will hardly bring economic ruin. Fast forward to November…

  • I agree with Dr Strangelove that NI sucks when it comes to entrepreneurialship. Schools, colleges and especially universities are complete failures at encouraging entrepreneurs.

    Everything I see seems to be about working for someone else and working really hard so your employer gets all the money. Not once have I heard a university lecturer saying you could start your own business and get all the money for yourself.

    As for sorting out this problem, going to London/Dublin isn’t the answer. Not until your business empire expands that far. We need to stop the brain drain. If you are a true entrepreneur, don’t let others stop you, just Go For It!

    I believe some of our MLAs deserve their money as they continue to work even under these drastic situations. A lot of the money goes into offices and staff, which do provide services for their communities.

  • mnob

    sh*t ! the glass is half empty, and draining fast !

    Its a peculiar trait of NI (Irish ?) character that we tend to focus on the negatives.

    Theres so much misinformation above I hardly know where to start.

    The ILO unemployment measure is actually quite tight and applied consistently. If you follow the link above, this is described. This figure is different from the figures that governments publish.

    I quote (from the link above which most seem not to have read) :

    However this method does have some advantages over the claimant-based approach in that it includes people who are unemployed but who are not actually claiming unemployment (welfare) benefits from the government. The other benefit is that the ILO method is an international standard and this makes comparing one countryπs unemployment rates with another fairer than comparing their claimant rates.

    The >60% public sector figure includes an estimate of jobs which may be supported by public sector money, assumes that 1 part time job = 1 full time job, and in fact was ‘created’ as a political figure to put pressure on the politicians at a time of political negotiations.
    *This* is not a robust measurable indicator.

    As a UK region NI has the lowest public sector growth and outside of the SE of England, the highest private sector growth – in other words things are moving in the right direction.

    Dont mention the war – it might have had an impact on our economy dontya think?

    As for NI citizens working down south – this one sounds dubious to me, given the number of Europeans working in NI it hardly seems logical that large numbers of our workforce should cross the border just to find work. I also encounter ‘southerners’ working in NI on a daily basis.

    I’m not quite sure how the income figures quoted were derived – I think currencies might have been mixed up for a start – but you can’t use this as a robust indicator for a *region* as money migrates to the economic centres (ie London and the home counties). The same effect occurs with money from the ROI leaving the country (again to London and the home counties) but because this is considered as leaving the country, the measure is different.

    There is fundamental differences between the way regions and countries economic performance can be measured, and this fuels the yada yada yada our economy is better brigade, but when a measure which can be applied consistently is brought to bear (ILO unemployment) the same people are happy to use non robust figures to rubbish it.

    Finally, what inward ivestor or local entrepreneur is going to invest in a place where good news is doubted, ridiculed, ignored and attacked, quite often without an understanding of what the meaning is.

  • IJP

    Well done mnob.

    I’m the first to caution about such figures, and the first to demand vast improvement.

    But no harm in stressing some of the good news. It’s not all bad!

  • Keith M

    Brian Boru, some things you forgot to mention or were frankly just plain wrong on.

    ” 40% are employed by the State. Their wages cannot grow to the extent that they would in a strong private-sector. “.

    Except of course in this country where public sector wages have increased at a far higher rate than they have in the public section.

    “Per capita income is $19,900 compared to $34,400 in the Republic.”

    Misleading and/or irrelevant. What is important is disposable income, and here the figures are roughly comparable.

    “150,000 jobs have been brought to the Republic by multinationals since 1991 compared to 15,000 in the North.” How many of these “multi-nationals” are from the UK? They might be seen as outward investment in the Republic, but of course they wouldn’t be in another part of the UK.

    The key isssues here are that unemployment in both countriees is all but non-existant.

    Of course there will always be a central subsidy to the regions, whether it be in the U.K. or Ireland.

    Yes too many are employed in the public sector, but that’s an ill with affects the whole of the UK.

    However I would prefer a situation like this than one that exists in this country or skills shortages in key areas (health care etc), which have to be fill by immigrants.

  • mnob

    I actually agree that we need to reduce our reliance on the public sector, and help entrepreneurship and innovation but I had to counter the extreme negativity and politically inspired NI knocking.

    In the words of the old IDB advert “Cmon Northern Ireland cmon, there’s a whole lot of work to be done” (Sorry couldn’t resist)

  • seabhac siulach

    So, if the six county economy is booming, then why is Hain reporting that it is a basketcase and that the present situation cannot continue? Why would he talk down his own position? Also, why would he promote an all-Ireland economy if the indicators were not already showing that this is likely already occurring, with increased migration within Ireland, etc. If the six county economy is so healthy, may we then look forward in future to tales of the six counties being a net contributor to the budget of the UK, instead of its biggest drain? Dream on…

    The 6 county economy was always an artificial construct, separated from its natural hinterland south of the border by differing tax rates, etc. Only by restoring the link between North and South does it have a chance of performing to its real potential. Belatedly, even the Brits have realised this…witness Hain’s recent statements.

    I would suggest that having >30% of the population employed by the public sector (whereas in the 26 counties the percentage is a more normal <20%) is a deeply unhealthy situation. If having >60% of the GDP coming from the public sector was a recipe for success then the old communist countries would indeed have buried the West and we all now be toasting Lenin with vodka.
    The six county economy has all the appearances of health but it in fact brittle, rotten on the inside. For example, it is no wonder there is little obvious unemployment while the government continues to subsidise the massive over-staffing within the six county civil service, etc. (Anyone with any knowledge of the civil service could confirm this).
    While, at present, the situation may appear rosy it cannot continue. The main source of cashflow into the statelet (the British govt.) is showing distinct signs of growing tired of maintaining the artificially high standard of living of its ungrateful inhabitants. Why else the recent threats to increase rates to the same levels as the rest of the UK (they are subsidised in the 6 counties), the threats to trim the number of quangos and the over-staffed councils, the talk of an all-Ireland economy, etc.? Enjoy that single fantasy statistic of umemployment while you can (the rest of the economic statistics for the 6 counties do not make for such pleasant viewing), the days of the easy ride would appear to be coming to an end.

  • mnob

    seabhac siulach, as I said, Hain is playing a political game. Politicians spin statistics and ‘facts’ whatever way they want to suit whatever argument they are making at the time. Have a think about what he’s trying to achieve and you will understand why hes saying these things.

    You have your republican blinkers on – seeing ‘Britain’ as something seperate from Northern Ireland – as there being a British economy and an NI economy.

    Northern Ireland doesn’t have an economy of its own – it is fully integrated into the UK economy. It is neither a net drain or a net source to the economy – just a component part. NI contributes to the UK economy in ways that can’t be measured through corporation tax for corporations based in GB for example, through migration of people to the economic centres, through things as simple as MPs salaries etc etc etc

    ‘British’ money doesnt flow into the statelet, goods, materials, people and money flow into and out of the region.

    I am not arguing that everything is absolutely fine (see my previous) but ask yourself this, if your stance is that the ‘statelet’ has failed and this facilitates a United Ireland then exactly what is in it for Republicans to try and make NI work, and what is in it for Unionist to share power with those so obvioulsy with a vested interest in making the ‘statelet’ fail?

  • Crataegus

    mnob

    Excellent postings.

    It is a pity that the political sector seem unable to get their act together so we can make some coherent changes in the administration and really start to move forward. We have a Civil Service that has been left to bask for 30years, but the figures you highlight comparing sectorial growth with other regions is heartening.

  • Northsider

    None of the multi-nationals that located to the south were from the UK bar 2 I think (last time I checked anyway), the south has one of the largest disposbale incomes in Europe and the North does not hold a flame to to it. Its sad but true unfortunately.

    There is no point in comparing one economy to another because they are in different leagues, it is purely down to the dynamics of the Northern economy and its dependency on the civil service and the mentality of workers here.

  • Keith M

    Northsider : “None of the multi-nationals that located to the south were from the UK bar 2 I think (last time I checked anyway)”.

    With due respect, this is pure unadulterated nonsense. Over 80% of the jobs created in the retail sector are from UK owned companies. Several of the call centres are for UK owned companies.

  • Brian Boru

    http://archives.tcm.ie/breakingnews/2005/02/24/story190922.asp
    “Workers in the North are the most satisfied with their salaries in the UK, despite having the lowest average earnings, a report today claimed.

    The average wage in Northern Ireland is £17,366 (€25,000) a year, which is 77.5% of the UK national average of £22,411 (€32,400), according to PayFinder.com, which compares salaries and jobs. Yet a survey of 2,700 people by the website found that 40% of Northern Irish respondents were satisfied with their earnings.”

    In the Republic:
    http://www.unison.ie/features/budget2005/business/stories.php3?ca=369&si=1297130

    “The average industrial wage last year was €28,000, and the combined industrial and public service average is €33,000.”

    This gap can only increase – especially as we have a larger private-sector where wage-growth is faster.

  • dave

    With the ecomony on the up and up maybe this is the time for Independence to get a mention???

    An Independent northern ireland that is. it seems that Independence is a viable option after all???

  • Brian Boru

    No Dave. That isn’t an option under the GFA. And how would it be governed? Nationalists would not accept a return to the Aparteid state of 1922-72.

  • Brian Boru

    You are also too dependent on the state-sector to become an independent state without being part of either a UI or the UK.

  • Dave

    “No Dave. That isn’t an option under the GFA. And how would it be governed? Nationalists would not accept a return to the Aparteid state of 1922-72.

    Posted by Brian Boru on Apr 13, 2006 @ 08:00 PM”

    Plan (B) wasn’t part of the GFA either was it Brian.

    When governments start moving the goal posts then all options are on the table.

    Ten years of IRA/SF not bombing the hell out of people of northern Ireland has shown that Northern Ireland at peace can make it on it’s own terms. What needs to be done now is to remove the possibility of a United Ireland once and for all time. Independence would do just that.

  • John East Belfast

    Brian

    I cant but help feel that your posts on this matter are a little on the ‘side swipe’ side and more to do with your wishing that NI was an economic basket case so as to support your position for an united separatist Ireland.

    It reminds me of what I used to hear 20 to 30 years ago about the impoverished Free State.

    I have always felt, and emphasise to my children, that wishing someone else’s misfortune to advance your own position was not a honourable thing to do.

    Lets look at NI public sector – you portray it as some kind of Cold War Eastern European country with countless bureaucrats doing meaningless tasks.

    The fact is that NI is a very small region and once you include a British standard of Education, Health, Fire Service and criminal justice system you are going to immediately take up a huge %.

    Infact that is why immigration to NI is booming – expanding companies cannot find the workers – many of whom are carrying out essential public services.

    That we are over governed and over quangoed – nobody is disputing – trimming that is well under way.
    That we have a problem with a lack of entrepreunerial spirit – true – and that needs tackled.

    However those of us who are objective (and who lived through it) realise that we are emerging from 35 years of civil disturbance, political instability and a terrorist campaign who’s sole aim was to destroy the economic stability fo the region – in the same way you gloat over its failings now.

    Meanwhile the Celtic Tiger – whose success I applaude and whose continuance I genuinely wish for – is about a 15 to 20 year phenomenon.

    I am not convinced lowering corporate taxes to attract multi national jobs is a long term form of security so I hope you do not find reason to stop your crowing when the flat rate of tax reaches Poland with its 25% ROI labour costs.

    Meanwhile those of us heavily involved in the NI business community will testify to its current resilience and the opportunity we are all facing – infact if you had money to invest I would strongly recommend you look north as over the next 5 to 10 years it will be a case of ‘watch this space’.

  • Brian Boru

    “Plan (B) wasn’t part of the GFA either was it Brian.

    When governments start moving the goal posts then all options are on the table.

    Ten years of IRA/SF not bombing the hell out of people of northern Ireland has shown that Northern Ireland at peace can make it on it’s own terms. What needs to be done now is to remove the possibility of a United Ireland once and for all time. Independence would do just that.”

    On the contrary it would be unwise and would likely have consequences which none of us would like to see. You still haven’t said how it would be governed. Majority-rule would have the same results as before. Be very careful. And anyway, Unionism no longer has the kind of support it had before partition. You won’t be able to create an independent NI – especially West of the Bann.

    On Plan B, it can be avoided if Unionists enter govt with SF. Just do it. Societies with a recent history of conflict require special solutions that might not be accepted in more stable countries.

  • Cahal

    J.E.B.
    “infact if you had money to invest I would strongly recommend you look north as over the next 5 to 10 years it will be a case of ‘watch this space”

    I think I heard similar talk about 5 to 10 years ago.

  • Crataegus

    If I could reiterate a few points that J-E-B made.

    Many sections of the private sector are buoyant and it is difficult to find staff. We are unquestionably sucking in labour from Eastern Europe by the plane load. The flats that were basically dole drops a decade ago are now occupied by Central European workers, and around our hospitals Indian and African doctors and nurses. There is absolutely no question that this is happening. Paradoxically, if this continues at current rates, this may have greater bearing on the political future of this place in the decades to come than all the vexations of our politicians.

    Anyone who suggests that the 30 years of political unrest had no real bearing on the current economic and administrative performance have a perception that is difficult to comprehend. Someone bombs your business and years later you get compensation, bound to have a negative influence. Its obvious isn’t it?

    That said there are obvious problems and broadly speaking they fall under four headings.

    1 Lack of political direction and common purpose.

    2 A Civil Service (or sections of) which has been adrift for over 30 years. Because of 2 above they lack clear direction and purpose and are used to running their own affairs. Need a spring clean but first need an Executive.

    3 An environment that is in many ways anti enterprise. It is a combination of factors, from rates and tax to the speed and efficiency of the public sector and includes training delivering efficient services, good transport etc. It is really a question of encouraging people to take risk and encouraging everyone to raise their game. It is not simply a matter of tax. To suggest that 10% Corporation tax and we are all in paradise is perhaps simplistic as all must have improved opportunity and not just a few. We need everyone on board.

    4 Training and education. Better education, more University places in sectors that are of strategic value, real apprentice ship schemes etc.

    Ireland North and South should not be complacent; the difference between successful economies and basket case is not that great in this unpredictable world. It is unquestionable cheaper to operate businesses in other countries. None of us should crow and we should cooperate to common advantage just as we should with Scotland, Wales and England or anywhere else if it suits.

    Instead of looking at our position on the island of Ireland and in the UK economy as a disadvantage we should instead view it as a unique opportunity, which gives us wider opportunities to exploit if we are astute.

  • Dave

    FAO Brian:

    Brian states: “On the contrary it would be unwise and would likely have consequences which none of us would like to see. You still haven’t said how it would be governed. Majority-rule would have the same results as before. Be very careful. And anyway, Unionism no longer has the kind of support it had before partition. You won’t be able to create an independent NI – especially West of the Bann.”

    Who would govern an Independent Northern Ireland Hmmm? The people Brian, the people.

    Brian states:” You won’t be able to create an independent NI – especially West of the Bann.”

    Hey! Brian Three counties would do for me. If republicans/nationalists won’t go to the republic of Ireland then we will bring the republic of Ireland to them they won’t have anyone to blame but themselves.

    There is all to play for. The unionists of Northern Ireland will not countenance any more shoddy deals which will force the people to accept terrorists in government or be forced into a united Ireland. maybe you believe we will just go belly up on these issues.

    There is an old saying: No Surrender

  • Brian Boru

    “There is an old saying: No Surrender”

    Said that about Drumcree. 🙂

    What does “the people” mean? Does it mean majority rule? The Brits won’t let it happen anyway.

    By the way only 2 counties are majority Unionist.

  • Brian Boru

    An independent NI under majority rule would be a modern-day Rhodesia and would collapse like that did.

  • Intelligence Insider

    “An independent NI under majority rule would be a modern-day Rhodesia and would collapse like that did.

    Posted by Brian Boru on Apr 14, 2006 @ 02:50 AM”

    I think you will find you are wrong, again, Brian. Or maybe you are telling us that Rhodesia did have majority rule? To my memory Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence was not made to endorse majority rule. Correct me if you think I’m wrong there!

    I am certainly not in favour of an independent N.I., as a Unionist I want N.I. to remain within the U.K.. Any person suggesting anything other that the continuation of the Union is NOT a Unionist.

  • Brian Boru

    Well it would treat its minority as Rhodesia treated the majority in Rhodesia. We already have seen an example of this from 22-72. Any attempt to create it will I’m sure be resisted and successfully.

  • Crataegus

    Brian Boru

    Time moves on and things change 60s civil rights in USA, Rhodesia etc. Its 2006 and even NI has changed!!!!