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12 June 2018

FSB NI respond to new economic figures

FSB Northern Ireland has responded to the publication of the Northern Ireland Labour Market Report for June and the Quarterly Employment Survey, both released today. The Labour Market Report shows the employment rate has decreased over the quarter and is the lowest of all UK regions at 69.7%. Unemployment, though historically low, has risen slightly to 3.3%, economic inactivity is unchanged and stubbornly high at 27.9%.

Meanwhile, the Quarterly Employment Survey for Q1 2018 showed that private sector jobs increased over the quarter to their highest level.

Commenting on the figures, FSB NI Policy Chair, Tina McKenzie said:

“Clearly the employment figures released today present a complex picture. While unemployment has increased slightly over the quarter, it is still low by historical standards, however more troubling is that economic inactivity, people of working age not in work or seeking employment, is unchanged and shows no sign of decreasing.

“There is a huge chasm between the rate of economic inactivity in Northern Ireland at 28 percent compared to the overall UK rate at 21 percent. If this is not addressed it will cause significant issues for businesses who require access to skills and labour, and will also have wider social implications.

“More encouraging news was found in the Quarterly Employment Survey for Q1 2018, which demonstrated that private sector jobs increased over the quarter to their highest level, which represents progress as we look to rebalance the economy.

“SMEs in Northern Ireland employ more people than all larger businesses and the entire public sector combined, so have a key role to play as we look to further develop the local private sector.”