“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…

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  • Old Mortality

    And yet we still require substantial amounts of imported labour to sustain manufacturing output. Why?

  • Old Mortality

    On the other hand the figures don’t take into account the disguised unemployment in the public sector.

  • Local Government Officer

    Peter Robinson, when he “running” DFP was quite vociferous about cutting back public sector employment. And he did what about it, exactly…? This should have been a managed situation from at least ten years ago. And the bullet was dodged at every turn.

    As for migrant labour, the numbers for the past couple of years have fallen drastically…up to 9000 less in 2008/9 than the year before. Anecdotally, many economic migrants have since returned home.

    Tops for claimant counts – Derry (7.7), Strabane and Belfast (7.1), Limavady (7.0), Moyle and Newry (6.2). Average levels of disability allowances – and this is across total, not working, population is running around 9%. Nearly 60% of adults with no or low qualifications. 22% of 16-24 year olds in Northern Ireland currently unemployed.

    And yet this is fixable. It will take time and effort, a steady hand, a lot of barriers removed, a single, unchanging, untweaked, un-“reformed-every-six-months” direction.

    Because in the middle of all this, over 3500 people still completed the start-a-business/Go for It! programme.

    Our claimant count across Northern Ireland sits at around 5%. In the early 1980s, it was running in and around 20%. In 1991 it was 12.6%

    I firmly believe that the willingness and drive to make the change is there, from the bottom-up. Do I believe that the tribes voted in after May 5 have the vision, intelligence, and wherewithal to support that drive and manage it properly…?

    Well…ask me in 2012.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘This should have been a managed situation from at least ten years ago. And the bullet was dodged at every turn.’

    Couldn’t agree more. The best time to curb public sector employment was when there was more alternative employment available but it still might have upset a few people so best not to unless you have to.

    ‘As for migrant labour, the numbers for the past couple of years have fallen drastically…up to 9000 less in 2008/9 than the year before. Anecdotally, many economic migrants have since returned home.’

    I accept that the numbers have fallen but there are still a lot left. If you’re in any doubt just stand outside the gates of any food processing plant when the shift is changing.

    ‘Because in the middle of all this, over 3500 people still completed the start-a-business/Go for It! programme.’

    That’s very good on the face of it but how many of these projects, even if they succeed, will do any more than service the domestic market. We need exporting businesses (like food processing).

  • Local Government Officer

    “…even if they succeed, will do any more than service the domestic market…”

    Yeah but the interest is there. There’s nuggets in amongst all those servicing businesses, which need the right sort of nurturing. My real point is – and I admit I didn’t make it clear – in a region that has been so reliant on public sector employment, in the darkest days of a downturn, there were still 3500 people at least *interested* in starting out.

    And that in itself can only be a good thing; being optimistic, it bodes well for the future.