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13 August 2019

FSB NI reacts to August employment figures

FSB NI Policy Chair, Tina McKenzie, has cautiously welcomed today’s positive jobs figures, which show the Northern Ireland employment rate at a record high. The rate of economic inactivity, which includes those not in work nor seeking employment, was at its lowest ever recorded, which is also encouraging.

Commenting, Tina McKenzie said:

“The persistent issue of economic inactivity is something which has long been a concern to policy makers in Northern Ireland so, given it is continuing to decline, albeit from very high levels, this will provide some comfort that progress is being made.

“However, there is still much that can be done to encourage more people to play a fuller role in the economy. Research by NISRA has shown that more than a third of women who are economically inactive declare ‘caring for family or home’ as the primary reason for their inactivity. Properly investing in childcare, allowing it to be more affordable and accessible, would enable parents to have more choice about the role they play within the economy.

“While the record high employment rate may be welcome, this should be viewed with caution given the latest growth figures, which showed the UK economy had contracted during the last quarter. In order to boost business confidence, FSB has called for an emergency budget which should focus on lowering employer National Insurance Contributions to help sustain employment, raising the employment allowance, which would encourage employers to take on more staff, and targeted reductions in VAT.

“Immediate action on these measures would help stimulate business activity amidst continued unhelpful political and economic uncertainty.”