Alliance Enterprise spokesperson David Alderdice has welcomed another dip in Northern Ireland unemployment. The rate fell to 4.0% last month, bucking the overall UK trend. Northern Ireland’s figure compares favourably with the figure of 4.9% for Great Britain.
Cllr Alderdice stated: “Clearly it is extremely significant that Northern Ireland now enjoys a record low in unemployment. The level is now significantly lower in each of the other countries of the UK, and about half the EU average.
“However, we cannot afford to ignore the underlying structural difficulties in our economy. We still have, comparatively, far more people economically inactive than elsewhere in the UK, and long-term unemployment remains a problem.
“Additionally, latest Office of National Statistics figures show that average earnings in the Northern Ireland public sector are now higher than in Great Britain, yet in the private sector they are 10-15% lower. Estimates also show that the local black economy is comparatively ten times larger than elsewhere in the UK. Put all these figures together, and this means small companies in Northern Ireland are uncompetitive against other employment sectors when seeking to recruit the skills and abilities they need from within our workforce.
“In short, it is welcome that so many people are in employment in Northern Ireland. However, we now need to make sure more people are in jobs which create wealth for the economy. Only then will Northern Ireland be able to ‘pay its way’, as the Government puts it, without punitive rates hikes, water charges and stealth taxes.”