Foster comments on latest labour market figures

Figures released today for the period July - September 2012 show that the Northern Ireland unemployment rate remained unchanged over the quarter at 7.6%.

More recent figures for October 2012 show that the number of unemployment benefit claimants increased by 600 from the previous month’s revised figure.

Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “While these figures reflect the current economic climate, they also show that the Northern Ireland unemployment rate (7.6%) is below that of the UK (7.8%), the European Union (10.5%) and the Republic of Ireland (15.0%).

“Rebalancing the economy towards more productive jobs remains a key priority for my Department and Invest Northern Ireland. The recently announced Economy and Jobs initiative is also important in that it provides further support to hard pressed businesses to access the specialist expertise needed to grow output. We are also encouraging businesses to avail of the undoubted pool of experience available among those who have been out of work for over a year or those who are aged over 50.

“The £200million injection comprises a range of carefully targeted, practical measures that will help to stimulate growth and greater participation in the labour market.

“My aim is to provide the support needed for businesses to navigate their way through the current difficult economic conditions.”

The Enterprise Minister was speaking from China, where she is promoting tourism and supporting Northern Ireland companies in their drive to win business in the country.

The Minister said: “A number of our local companies are already developing their business in China, but there is huge potential for many more to do so in this dynamic marketplace.

“Invest Northern Ireland is currently assisting many firms across a range of sectors to succeed in China and this week 35 local companies are working to show the Chinese market what they are capable of.

“I will continue to press ahead with existing Invest Northern Ireland programmes to support export-led growth.”