ULSTER DOLE QUEUE LENGTHENS AS JOBLESS RISES BY 200 TO 63,400

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster

HERE is the good news: Northern Ireland drew 1-1 away from home last night against Portugal.

And here is the bad news. Another 200 people joined Ulster’s lengthening dole queues last month.

That means the total number of people out of work stands at 63,400, Between June and AugustĀ 8.1 per cent of the population were unemployed and claiming benefits.

But there is little prospect of a freeze on the jobless numbers as soon hundreds of workers will be laid off at F G Wilson Engineering, pushing to total to over 64,000.

And if that news isn’t bad enough. The Northern Ireland economy is also continuing to weaken, according to official figures.

The Indexes of Services and Production both showed falling output in the second quarter of 2012.

Services fell by 1% over the quarter while production, which mainly reflects manufacturing output, fell by 5%.

Over the year, the number of people claiming the dole here has increased by 4.8%, while in the UK as a whole the figure has fallen by 1.4%.

A large proportion of the unemployed are young people, with 21.1% of those between aged between 18 and 24 now unemployed, up 3.0% over the year.

Manufacturing has been one of the stronger parts of the Northern Ireland economy in recent years.

Despite the quarterly slip the Index of Production still shows growth of 1.6% compared to this time last year.

For services the picture is worse, with the year-on-year the Index of Services showing output is down by 3%.

The Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that despite the poor performance this quarter, the NI production sector still continued to perform better than the UK over the year.

“Northern Ireland is a small open economy and we cannot expect to remain unaffected by the continued uncertainty in markets around the world,” she said.

“In the face of these challenges, it is important that local businesses continue to look for export opportunities in the wider global economy.”

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness may make two trips to China in the coming months in the hope of bringing some investment back to Northern Ireland.

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