Some good news for a change. Unemployment is at an all-time low. From the BBC:
Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate reached a record low of just 2.1% between July and September, new official figures suggest.
The figures also show that the employment rate increased over the quarter and over the year to 72.2%.
The number of employed people aged 16 and over was estimated at 874,000, which was up by 7,000 from the previous quarter and up by 23,000 from the same period in 2022.
The employment rate was still below the most recent average UK rate of 75.7%.
In recent years the Northern Ireland labour market has been characterised by an unemployment rate which is lower than the UK average, but an economic inactivity rate which is substantially higher.
Someone is classed as economically inactive if they are not in work and not looking for work.
That includes people who are retired, in full-time education, sick or disabled and those with caring responsibilities.
Northern Ireland has consistently had the highest rate of inactivity of any UK region.
The economic inactivity rate (for people aged 16 to 64) for July-September was estimated at 26.3%, which was down slightly over the quarter and by 1.4 percentage points over the year.
The most recent average UK inactivity rate (April-June 2023) was 20.9%.
The most common reason for economic inactivity among the working age population in Northern Ireland is long-term sickness.
In the most recent period there were 128,000 people classified as long-term sick, accounting for 41.7% of the total economically inactive.
This was 24,000 (23.3%) higher than the pre-pandemic figure in October-December 2019.
So there you have it. We are basically at full employment, but we also have a lot of people economically inactive.
The challenge is how to get more people back into the workforce. Does anyone have a link to more in-depth research on why people are economically inactive? I wonder what the breakdown is between people who are retired, in full-time education, sick or disabled and those with caring responsibilities. It does seem a bit odd lumping all these groups together.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.