“It will be 2012 at the earliest before we can say whether Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate and levels have peaked.”

As the BBC reports

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit last month reached 59,000 – a rise of 100 on the previous month.

That means unemployment has reached its highest rate in 13 years.

And it’s worth noting from the Northern Ireland Labour Market Report April 2011 [pdf file], that that’s an increase of 3,300 over the year.

Employment

The number of persons in employment in the period December 2010 – February 2011 was estimated at 779,000. This estimate was up 12,000 over the quarter and up 4,000 over the year. The employment rate for those aged 16-64 was estimated at 66.4%, up 1.1 percentage points over the quarter and up 0.3 percentage points over the year. However, NI’s employment rate remained well below the UK average (70.7%) and was the second lowest rate among the twelve UK regions.

Unemployment

The unemployment rate for the period December 2010 – February 2011 was estimated at 7.3%, down 0.5 percentage points over the quarter, but up 0.8 percentage points over the year. The number of unemployed persons was estimated at 62,000, down 4,000 over the quarter, but up 8,000 over the year.

Unadjusted figures show that 47.2% of the unemployed have been unemployed for 1 year or more – up 5.9 percentage points over the year. They also estimate the unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds at 20.3% – up 5.9 percentage points over the year.

Economically Inactive

The seasonally adjusted number of economically inactive persons in the period December 2010 – February 2011 was estimated at 560,000. This figure fell by 5,000 over the quarter, but was unchanged over the year.

The NI economic inactivity rate for those aged 16-64 stands at 28.3%. This is significantly higher than the UK average rate (23.2%) and is the highest of the twelve UK regions. Unadjusted figures estimate that 29% of the economically inactive, aged 16-64, in NI are sick/disabled, 28% are students, 24% are looking after the family/home, 12% are retired and 7% are ‘other’ reason.

Don’t panic!  According to the out-going Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, “There is enormous interest and good will towards Ireland north and south…”

Yeah, of course there is…  It’s been there for some time…

But as the US Economic Envoy to NI warned, “It’s no longer somebody else’s problem.”

Just as well the NI Executive managed to balance that final budget, then?  Oh, wait…