Statistics confirm concentration of losses in Manufacturing and need for a Strategic approach to sector
NI Executive must prioritise raising incomes through investment rather than the race-to-the-bottom on taxes, pay and productivity
September 14th: Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, responded to the latest Labour Force Survey, published today [Thursday 14th September] by the Northern Ireland Statistic Research Agency (NISRA):
“On the surface, these statistics show that the recovery in employment in Northern Ireland continues, albeit at a slow rate; but rather than offering cause for complacency, a comparison with those for the rest of the UK shows that we are actually falling further behind.
“The total rate of employment in the Northern Ireland labour force is 69% which is significantly lower than that in the UK as a whole which stands at 74.5% – a employment gap which has actually increased over the past decade.
“The unemployment rate in Northern Ireland is hovering around an equilibrium of six percent which is significantly above that in the UK, which is 4.9%. While it is true that this is lower than at the peak of the recession, it is still very much higher than it was ten years ago, when Northern Ireland outperformed the rest of the UK on this measure.
“The particular challenges faced by our Manufacturing sector are reflected in the fact that it has provided 46% of all confirmed redundancies in Northern Ireland in the last twelve months.
“But the issue of greatest concern to most workers is poverty pay and this is not reflected in today’s statistics. Yesterday a survey of households here suggested that lower-income families would have to spend half their income just to eat healthily.
“The gross average full-time wage in Northern Ireland in April 2015 was more than eight percent lower than in the UK, a ratio that has been relatively consistent over the past twenty years. Allowing for inflation, household disposable income here is 11% lower than it was before the recession. The current economy strategy being pursued by the NI Executive is not delivering for working people.
“Instead of the current, short-termist approach of securing jobs through an unwinnable ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ approach to cutting corporate taxes, the Executive parties should adopt a strategic approach to growing a high value-added, regionally-balanced economy through infrastructural investment and upskilling”, Mr Kelly concluded.