NI remains jobless blackspot as latest figures show scale of economic challenges ahead

unite white out of redPrecarious work on the rise, warns Jimmy Kelly

Falls in jobless rate not from increased job creation but increase in numbers categorised as ‘economically inactive’

September 17th: The Labour Force Survey figures released today indicate that, although the numbers unemployed has fallen somewhat over the past year, it remains significantly higher than its pre-crash level and the fall has not been accompanied by an increase in the overall numbers employed.

Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said today that the figures underline the need for a new economic approach:

“The figures show that the claimant count rate in Northern Ireland in August was 5.9% – almost twice that in Great Britain at 2.9%; with jobless rates in Derry/Londonderry, Strabane, Belfast and Limavady higher still.

“The reduced numbers claiming jobseekers allowance is not because more have got jobs as total employment has also fallen; it is because many are being forced out of the labour market altogether. Northern Ireland’s economic inactivity rate has now increased to 29.1% which is significantly higher than the UK rate which is 22.1%.

“There is now mounting evidence that Northern Ireland’s economy is moving in the direction. We are the number one unemployment blackspot in the UK, with the differential getting greater not smaller; we have the highest economic inactivity rate in the UK; the lowest wages and the second lowest economic productivity in the UK (only marginally above Wales). More than a fifth of all young people are unemployed and there has been a massive swing to part-time working, bogus self-employment and zero-hours contracts”, Jimmy Kelly warned.

“The Northern Ireland Executive needs to take action to reverse these trends and steer Northern Ireland’s economy in the right direction.

“Last year, Unite presented the Northern Ireland Assembly with a series of costed and fundable proposals which we believed would result in a large stimulus for the Northern Ireland economy sufficient to have a significant impact on current jobless numbers. We have also pointed out that the widespread adoption of a Living Wage would support a wage-led economic recovery and address the low-wage problems facing us.

“Policies focussed on generating headlines from attracting transient FDI employment, as opposed to the long-term investment and the strategic development of indigenous sectors, are failing Northern Ireland. We are already seeing the result of such policies. Northern Ireland has all the hallmarks of a low-wage economy”, Mr Kelly concluded.

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