Northern Ireland unemployment almost doubled last month, figures show

Number claiming job related benefits rose to 56,200, up 89 per cent over previous month

A woman walks past shuttered businesses in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A woman walks past shuttered businesses in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Unemployment in Northern Ireland rose by almost 90 per cent in April, according to official figures.

Data released on Tuesday by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) showed that the number of people claiming job related benefits rose to 56,200, an increase of 89 per cent compared to the previous month and the highest monthly increase on record.

The figures give the first official indication of the impact of coronavirus on employment in Northern Ireland.

NISRA noted that the claimant count rate, which is now at 6.1 per cent, is similar to rates seen in 2009/10 and 2014, but below the most recent peak of 7.3 per cent in December 2012.

The highest claimant count rates were in Derry and Strabane and Belfast, while the lowest were in Lisburn and Castlereagh and Mid Ulster.

In the UK as a whole, the number of job-related benefit claimants increased by 69 per cent in April.

The figures also showed an increased in confirmed redundancies. In the most recent 12 months there were 3,108 confirmed redundancies, 47 per cent higher than in the previous period.

A total of 117 redundancies took place in April, with a further 783 proposed in the same month. This was 40 per cent higher than the number proposed the previous month and was the fifth largest figure in the last five years.

A further 124 redundancies were proposed in the current month to May 18th.

The Northern Ireland unemployment rate for the period January to March 2020 was unchanged over the quarter at an estimated 2.4 per cent, and down 0.5 per cent over the year.

However, NISRA noted that because these figures only covered the period up until the end of March, they did not fully reflect the impact of coronavirus on the labour market.

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