Once again, Unemployment not the full picture

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Figures released today showed a further drop in unemployment of 5,000 in Northern Ireland over the last three months, bringing the unemployment rate down to 7.3% as opposed to 7.7% for the UK as a whole. While some may take comfort from these figures, as this blog has pointed out before, the full suite of labour market indicators need to be taken into account.


Once again the drop in unemployment has been accompanied by a further decline in those economically active and an even larger increase in the numbers economically inactive. In fact there was a decline in the numbers employed of 1000 for Northern Ireland over the same period.


Once again, if people entering economic inactivity are doing so voluntarily, such as for early retirement or to care for their families, we need not be concerned. However if economic activity is discouraged workers leaving the workforce, we are merely re-categorizing an existing problem

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Paul Mac Flynn


Paul Mac Flynn is co-director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute and is based in the Belfast office. In addition to managing the Belfast office he has co-responsibility for the NERI's research programme and for its strategic direction.  

He leads on the NERI’s analysis of the Northern Ireland economy along with all research into the impact of the United Kingdom‘s departure from the European Union. Other research areas include regional productivity, the all-island economy and the future of work.

He is a graduate of University College Dublin with a BA in Economics and Politics and the University of Bristol with an MSc in Economics and Public Policy, specialising in the economic impacts of political devolution in the UK.

Contact: [email protected] or 00 44 28 9024 6214.