Thu, 26 May 2022

Labour Market Statistics

Northern Ireland Executive
12 Apr 2022, 21 GMT+10

The labour market statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency.

Labour Market Statistics published

Payrolled employees now higher than pre-COVID for the tenth consecutive month

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in March 2022 was 775,000, an increase of 0.1% over the month and 4.8% over the year.  This is the highest on record and the tenth consecutive month that employee numbers have been above pre-COVID levels.
  • Earnings from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of Pound 1,928 in March 2022, an increase of Pound 14 (0.7%) over the month and Pound 125 (6.9%) over the year. 

Lowest NI Claimant Count (Experimental Series) total since March 2020

  • In March 2022, the seasonally adjusted number of people on the claimant count was 37,900 (4.0% of the workforce), which is a decrease of 1,000 (2.6%) from the previous month's revised figure.  The March claimant count is 41% less than the recent peak in May 2020, and 27% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

Trend of low numbers of confirmed redundancies continues

  • The number of redundancies proposed in March was low, and in line with the statistical disclosure control policy cannot be disclosed (preventing potential identification of individual businesses).
  • NISRA received confirmation that 30 redundancies occurred in March 2022.  At 1,850, the annual total was 68% less than in the previous year.  Over the year April 2021 to March 2022, 2,130 redundancies were proposed, 79% less than in the previous 12 months.

Labour Force Survey headline measures

  • The latest NI seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (the proportion of economically active people age 16 and over who were unemployed) for the period December-February 2022 was estimated from the Labour Force Survey at 2.5%.  The unemployment rate decreased by 0.6 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and by 1.0pps over the year.  Both the quarterly and annual changes were statistically significant and are likely to reflect real change.
  • The employment rate (proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work) increased by 1.1pps over the quarter and by 1.3pps over the year to 71.2%.  Neither the quarterly nor annual changes were statistically significant.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in NI was estimated at 27.2million, a decrease of 3.8% on the previous quarter and an increase of 7.0% over the year.
  • The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who were not working and not seeking or available to work) decreased over the quarter by 0.7pps and over the year by 0.5pps to 27.0%.  Neither the quarterly nor annual changes were statistically significant.

Commentary

  • Employee indicators remain positive with the number of payrolled employees and level of payroll earnings above the pre-pandemic level, while the latest unemployment rate marks a return to the pre-pandemic rate.  Employment levels (which includes self-employed) and total hours worked have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels and similarly claimant count and economic inactivity both remain above.
  • The latest HMRC payroll data was the highest level on record in March and 3.0% above those recorded in March 2020 pre-COVID.  The 25-34 age group is the only group to yet return to pre-pandemic numbers, with 0.7% less employees than in March 2020. 
  • Over the first three months of 2022, the total number of confirmed redundancies (90) was the lowest three-month total on record.  With the exception of February 2022, where there were 210 proposed redundancies (still well below the average number of proposed redundancies in the second half of 2020 of 1,050 per month), there have been low or no proposed redundancies in each of the months between September 2021 and March 2022.
  • The Labour Force Survey shows statistically significant decreases in the unemployment rate over the quarter and year to December-February 2022 to 2.5% (0.6pps and 1.0pps respectively). The latest unemployment rate is the same as the rate reported in the pre-pandemic period (December-February 2020).
  • Also, when comparing to the pre-pandemic levels, the total number of hours worked in December-February 2022 was 5.2% below, whilst the employment rate was 1.3pps below.  Similarly, the economic inactivity rate remains 1.3pps above the pre-pandemic position.

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