Dr Farry was speaking after new statistics showed the Northern Ireland unemployment rate now stands at 3.9 per cent, below the UK average of 4.4 per cent. He said complacency should not be shown, despite the positive movement.
“Today’s figures should be welcomed but equally we must recognise major unresolved structural problems remain within our labour market, including having the highest levels of economic inactivity in the UK, and challenges in relation to interventions in skills and productivity.
“It is likely many people will misuse these figures to portray an artificial situation relating to the economy but there can be no room for complacency. Northern Ireland remains in a much weaker position relative to all of our neighbours and we are uniquely vulnerable because of Brexit.
“The absence of an Executive means we are falling behind in terms of the type of interventions occurring in neighbouring jurisdictions. For instance, we have no industrial strategy and no productivity plan. Many of the skills interventions I commenced several years ago as Minister are stalled. We are building up more and more problems which need to be addressed, or else our economy will stagnate and we will fall further behind.”