Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Labour Market Statistics

Northern Ireland Executive
18 Apr 2023, 21 GMT+10

The labour market statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

Labour market statistics

Payrolled employees and monthly earnings recorded an increase over the month

Claimant Count rate remains relatively stable over the previous twelve months

  • In March 2023, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 36,200 (3.7% of the workforce), an increase of 2.3% from the previous month's revised figure.  The March claimant count remains higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020 by 21.2%.

Number of confirmed redundancies remains below historic trend

Statistically significant annual changes in Labour Force Survey (LFS) employment and economic inactivity rates

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people aged 16 and over who were unemployed) for the period December-February 2023 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.4%.  This was a decrease of 0.3 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and a decrease of 0.6pps over the year.
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) increased by 0.6pps over the quarter and increased by 2.6pps over the year to 71.9%.  The annual change was statistically significant. 
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI (27.8 million) decreased by 2.6% over the quarter and increased by 5.6% over the year.
  • The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who were not working and not seeking or available to work) decreased by 0.4pps over the quarter and by 2.2pps over the year to 26.2%.  The annual change was statistically significant.


  • The latest labour market release generally shows improvements, with payrolled employee numbers and earnings having both increased over the year, whilst the unemployment rate is 0.1% below the pre-pandemic position. Measures of total employment (e.g. employment rate and hours worked) and economic inactivity, however, have yet to return to their pre-pandemic position.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data shows that payrolled employee numbers increased by 0.5% over the month and 2.3% over the year. Payrolled earnings also increased over the month, by 2.7%, and 9.2% over the year.
  • Further improvements were seen with households reporting, via the Labour Force Survey (LFS), a statistically significant increase in the employment rate over the year to December-February 2023 to 71.9% and a statistically significant decrease in the economic inactivity rate over the year to December-February 2023 to 26.2%. The unemployment rate also decreased over the year to December-February 2023 and is now 2.4%.  Whilst the unemployment rate is now 0.1% below the pre-pandemic rate for December-February 2020, both the employment rate and economic inactivity rate have yet to return to their pre-pandemic positions, with the employment rate 0.5pps below the pre-pandemic level recorded in December-February 2020, whilst the economic inactivity rate is 0.6pps above the pre-pandemic rate.
  • The total number of hours worked in December-February 2023 increased by 5.6% over the year, however, it was 3.2% below the pre-pandemic position recorded in December-February 2020.
  • In contrast to these improvements, the claimant count estimate increased by 2.3% over the month to March 2023 from the revised estimate for February 2023. The claimant count rate also increased slightly over the month, to 3.7%, which was the first increase since September 2022.
  • Finally, there were 150 redundancies confirmed to the Department in March 2023, taking the rolling twelve-month total to 1,070. This was the first month since September 2022 that the rolling twelve-month confirmed redundancy total was over 1,000, however this total remains below the long term trend. There were 100 proposed redundancies notified to the Department in March 2023, bringing the rolling twelve-month proposed redundancies total to 2,190. This was an increase when compared to recent rolling twelve-month totals, and the highest total reported since April 2022, but is still well below the long-term trend.

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