Jobless benefit claims fall in North
THE number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Northern Ireland has fallen for the 11th month in a row.
Official figures show almost 60,000 people signed on in December, 600 fewer than in November.
The rate of unemployed stayed the same, at 7.3pc.
Stormont's Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "While the unemployment rate remains unchanged this quarter, the number of unemployment benefit claimants has fallen for the 11th consecutive month."
The labour market statistics revealed a fall of 5,300 in the claimant figures since the start of last year, to 59,500.
Derry had the highest rate of claimants, 8.3pc, followed by Strabane, 7.5pc, Belfast, 6.8pc, and Limavady, 6.3pc.
More than half of those on benefits have been out of work for more than a year.
However, the North's labour force survey for September to November showed the unemployment rate remained unchanged compared with three months earlier.While slightly above the UK average of 7.1pc, it was below the EU average of 10.9pc, and the Republic's which recently fell to 12.4pc.
Seasonally adjusted, the quarterly figures show a jump in the number of people in work in the North – up 6,000 to 804,000 – but also a rise of 1,000 in those unemployed.
Another 563,000 adults, 27.2pc, are said to be economically inactive and includes students, adults looking after the family or home, some retirees and the sick or disabled.
The employment rate was an estimated 67.4pc, below the UK average of 72.1pc and the lowest among the 12 UK regions.
Elsewhere, officials revealed there were 122 confirmed redundancies in December and 103 proposed redundancies notified in the last four weeks.
The quarterly labour force survey is based on a sample 3,250 households throughout the North and the claimant figures are calculated monthly.