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Statistical press release - latest labour market figures

A National Statistics press release, detailing the latest labour market figures have been published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA).
Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The labour market press release can be accessed via DETI website link to external website

Main Results:

Labour Force Survey – Unemployment

  • The Northern Ireland seasonally adjusted unemployment rate1, as measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS), was estimated at 7.8% for the period August - October 2012. This is down 0.4 percentage points from the rate recorded in the previous quarter (8.2%) but was up 0.8 from the rate recorded one year ago (6.9%). The Northern Ireland unemployment rate is the same as the UK average rate (7.8%) which decreased by 0.2 percentage points over the quarter and by 0.5 percentage points over the year. The NI rate was also lower than the European Union (10.6%) and Republic of Ireland (15.1%) rates for September 2012.
  • Unadjusted LFS estimates for August - October 2012 show that 54.6% of those unemployed in Northern Ireland have been unemployed for one year or more. This is up 16.2 percentage points from one year ago. They also record the unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds at 18.9% - up 0.7 percentage points over the year.
  • At the time of production, comparable figures for the three months July - September 2012 estimated the NI unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds at 19.2%, compared to the UK average rate of 19.4%.
  • Please note the LFS is a sample survey with an associated degree of sampling error. The Northern Ireland LFS unemployment rate (7.8%) is accurate to within +/- 1.3% for August - October 2012.

Claimant Count Unemployment

  • The seasonally adjusted number of people claiming unemployment related benefits4 stood at 64,700 in November 2012 – up 500 (0.8%) from the revised figure for the previous month. The Northern Ireland claimant count rate (7.1%) in November 2012 was the second highest among the twelve UK regions – the UK rate was 4.8%. The latest monthly increase in Northern Ireland claimants (0.8%) was in contrast to the UK decrease (0.2%). Over the year, the Northern Ireland claimant count has increased by 6.6% (4,000), compared to a decrease of 1.3% in the UK. The annual increase in Northern Ireland was the highest among the UK regions.

Quarterly Employment Survey – Employee Jobs

  • Seasonal adjusted estimates from the Quarterly Employment Survey showed that there were 692,460 employee jobs in September 2012. This represented a marginal increase (+260 jobs) over the quarter and an annual decrease of 3,470 jobs (-0.5%). The Service sector increased (+630 jobs) over the quarter, however this was partially offset by decreases in Construction (-310 jobs) and in Other Industries (-60 jobs). Manufacturing remained unchanged over the quarter at 75,360 jobs. Over the quarter, the public sector contracted by 0.1% (130 jobs) while private sector jobs increased marginally (+140 jobs). Public sector jobs have now decreased by 5.3% (-11,840 jobs) since the series peaked at September 2009. This compares to a contraction of private sector jobs of 7.0% (36,100 jobs) since that series peaked in June 2008.

Labour Force Survey – Employment

  • Seasonally adjusted estimates for the period August - October 2012 showed that there were 806,000 people in employment in Northern Ireland and that the corresponding working age employment rate was estimated to be 67.5%. This rate increased by 0.6 percentage points over the quarter and was down 0.3 percentage points over the year.
  • For the period August - October 2012, the NI employment rate (67.5%) was below that of the UK (71.2%) which increased by 0.1 percentage points over the quarter and by 0.9 percentage points over the year.

Labour Force Survey – Economic Inactivity

  • The seasonally adjusted number of working age6 persons that were economically inactive decreased by 2,000 over the quarter and the corresponding working age economic inactivity rate was 26.7% (in August - October 2012). The Northern Ireland inactivity rate (26.7%) remained above the UK average rate (22.6%) and was the highest rate among the twelve UK regions.
  • Unadjusted LFS estimates can provide information on the reason for economic inactivity. In August - October 2012 an estimated 30% of the economically inactive of working age in Northern Ireland were students, 26% were sick/disabled, 24% were looking after the family/home, 12% were retired and 8% were ‘other’ reason.


  • Eight hundred and fifteen confirmed redundancies7-9 were notified in November 2012, compared to 418 in October 2012 and 97 in November 2011. There has been a 98% increase in the number of confirmed redundancies over the last year to 30th November 2012 – 3,331 compared to 1,680 in the previous year. There were also 328 proposed redundancies notified during the period mid November 2012 to mid December 2012. This takes the total of proposed redundancies to 4,354 since the start of the year to mid December. Please note that since all proposed redundancies do not actually take place, the confirmed total provides a better indication of real job losses.

Notes to editors:

1. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) measure of unemployment used in Northern Ireland labour market statistical publications is consistent with the International Labour Organisation measure. An explanation of the difference between the LFS and Claimant Count measures of unemployment can be found at DETI website link to external website

2. The official measure of unemployment is sourced to the LFS and refers to people without a job who were available for work and had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained. This definition is consistent with that recommended by the International Labour Office. Unemployment estimates for the European Union and the Republic of Ireland are sourced to EUROSTAT.

3. The figures released today contain data from a number of different sources. The unemployment, employment and economic inactivity rates are sourced to the LFS and refer to the period August - October 2012. It should be noted that the LFS figures are estimates, which are subject to sampling error. This means that the exact figure is likely to be contained in a range surrounding the estimate quoted. For example, the exact number of unemployed persons is 95% likely to fall within +/- 12,000 of the quoted estimate.

4. The Claimant Count measure of unemployment relates to November 2012 and is based on claimant data from Jobs and Benefits Office Administrative Systems.

5. Not all those who register for unemployment benefits meet the criteria for LFS unemployment. Conversely, not all those defined as unemployed in the LFS are eligible for unemployment benefits. Estimates of the numbers unemployed may also differ between the two sources due to timing differences.

6. The ‘working age’ definition, used in the calculation of employment and economic inactivity rates, was changed in August 2010 to include those aged from 16 to 64 for both men and women. Please see link for further details DETI website link to external website

Please note that there are no implications for the headline unemployment rate, which will continue to be based on the economically active population aged 16 and over.

7. The employee jobs figures are sourced to the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) and refer to the position at the 3rd September 2012 (with the quarterly change measured between June 2012 and September 2012). The QES figures are estimates that are subject to sampling error. The seasonal adjusted jobs total is constrained to the sum of each of the seasonal adjusted industry components. As a result, the jobs estimates for the Public and Private sectors, and their relative changes, will not sum to the total jobs as they are seasonally adjusted independently.

8. An increase in employee jobs was recorded between Q3 and Q4 2009. However, this is most likely due to a technical adjustment in the series when it was rebased in line with the 2009 Census of Employment results. For more details of the technical adjustment please follow link: DETI website link to external website

9. Under the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 companies are only legally required to notify the Department of impending redundancies of 20 or more employees. Any estimates provided are therefore likely to be an underestimate of total job losses, though it is not possible to quantify the extent of the shortfall.

10. Subject to the criteria mentioned above, employers must notify the Department of a) redundancies proposed and b) redundancies confirmed. Where redundancies occur, the confirmed total provides a better indication of real job losses since all proposed redundancies do not actually take place.

11. Redundancies do not necessarily equate to job losses, for example, employees who do not qualify for a redundancy package; those on temporary contracts are not incorporated in redundancy estimates.

12. Details of sampling errors, together with more detailed statistical information and definitions of the methodology used, can be found in the Labour Market Report (LMR) bulletin, which is available on the following website:DETI website link to external website

13. For media enquiries, please contact DETI Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

14. General information can be obtained from Hugh McNickle, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch, on Tel: 028 9052 9439.