Ulster Unionist economy spokesperson Sandra Overend MLA has commented on the latest unemployment statistics which seem to suggest both good news and bad news and highlight the stubbornly high rate of youth unemployment in Northern Ireland.
Mrs Overend said:
“There is good news in that 700 fewer people were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in November and that 2013 has seen a drop in the number of people on JSA of 4,600 from 64,800 to 60,200.
“The bad news was to be found in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate as measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) for the quarter from August to October which showed an increase in both the number of people who are unemployed and those who are economically inactive, meaning that the local unemployment rate in Northern Ireland of 7.5% is now back above the UK rate, which stands at 7.4%.
“A drop of 700 people claiming JSA is obviously very welcome, but it still means we have 60,200 people looking for work so there is nothing to be complacent about and we should also be concerned that Northern Ireland is still the UK region with the slowest monthly decrease in claimants, falling at 1.1% compared to the average of 2.8%.
“Nor can we ignore the rate of youth unemployment which remains worryingly high. For July-September 2013, the local unemployment rate for 18-24 years olds was 24.7%, well above the UK average of 19.6%. With that in mind I make no apology for repeating my previous call that tackling youth unemployment through the provision of employment, education and training must be at the forefront of the Executive’s agenda.
“I am also mindful of the continuing cry from businesses, especially those in the STEM sector regarding the lack of candidates with appropriate skills. It is absolutely crucial that businesses and government departments work to ensure that young people have appropriate skills to find jobs in the modern marketplace.”