Figures reveal welcome drop in local jobless total

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The number of people out of work and claiming benefits in the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area fell by five per cent last month, according to the latest government figures.

The January Labour Market Report reveals that the local jobless total stood at 1,489 during December - 1,036 men and 453 women - a decrease of 79 people from the previous month.

The area’s claimant count, which now stands at 1.7 per cent of the working age population, is still the second lowest among the 11 council areas.

According to the NI Statistics and Research Agency, the local jobless total has dropped by 16.4 per cent (293 people) over the past year.

The number of people out of work and claiming benefits across Northern Ireland fell by 800 during December to 32,700.

The latest NI unemployment rate (5.6 per cent) was above the UK average of 4.8 per cent, however it was below the European Union (8.3 per cent) rate for October 2016 and Republic of Ireland (7.3 per cent) rate for November 2016.

Commenting on the figures, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA said: “The figures published today contain positive messages across a range of key labour market indicators. In particular, the reductions in unemployment over the medium term and the further and continued decreases in the number of people on the unemployment register. In addition, employee jobs have continued to increase over the year in NI but estimates show the rate of growth is beginning to slow.

“It is important therefore that local businesses continue to develop through research and development, seeking new markets and promoting inward investment. I would encourage businesses to actively seek out these opportunities and to take advantage of Invest NI’s continued support for local businesses and the local economy.”