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'Record highs' for Northern Ireland workforce as jobless now at 3.5%

By Ryan McAleer ·

Richard Ramsey

Northern Ireland’s labour market has continued on its record-breaking run.

New official data for the period from March to May 2018 showed that unemployment remained at 3.5%. While it is still slightly up on the record 3.1% experienced in the first quarter of the year, Ulster Bank’s chief economist Richard Ramsey said the results remain encouraging.

He also said Northern Ireland saw a “raft of record highs” during the second period of 2018.

“Encouragingly, the local job-creation machine has continued to produce the goods in the second quarter,” he said.

The number of people in work (852,000) has never been higher, while the 413,000 females in the workforce is also a record.

The estimated 718,000 people in employment during March to May 2018 is also a new high. Some 637,000 were full-time, another record, while the 53,000 temporary workers was again the highest on record.

“It is encouraging to note that the growth in employment over the last year has been largely driven by employees and full-time work,” said the economist.

While self-employment remained flat at 127,000, there was a net gain of 33,000 employees (up 4.8%) over the year to March-May 2018. Over the same period, full-time and part-time employment increased by 25,000 (up 4.1%) and 5,000 (up 2.3%) respectively.

Mr Ramsey said there was a marked pick-up with second jobs, a 17% increase year-on-year, and temporary workers, up 10% in the same period.

“This is arguably a reflection of the rise of the so-called gig economy,” he said.

“Two key trends stand out in Northern Ireland’s employment growth performance.

“Firstly, female employment growth has outperformed their male counterparts. Secondly, employment growth amongst those aged over 50 years of age has exceeded those in the younger age-brackets.”

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Richard Ramsey