| 8.1°C Dublin

NI unemployment still on the rise

Unemployment is still on the increase in Northern Ireland despite an improvement in other parts of the UK.

There were an extra 500 claimants in December 2009.

However this was smaller than the average monthly increase last year and the unemployment rate in the three months to November fell to 6.8%.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said it was encouraging to see the increase in unemployment slowing to below the UK average. "While this increase is disappointing, the growth in claimants last month is below the average monthly increase of over 2,000 recorded during the first six months of the year," she said.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits stood at 54,500 last month. The increase was larger than the previous monthly increase of 200 but smaller than the average of 1,500 last year.

Northern Ireland was one of only two UK regions to record an increase in claimant levels in December.

The number of people of working age that were economically inactive decreased by an estimated 14,000 over the three months to November. However it remains considerably higher than the UK average rate.

The Government was notified of 343 redundancies which took place last month, compared to 451 the previous December.

Output from the production industries increased slightly over the three months to November, this is the first quarter to report stability since 2008. Service industry output fell over the quarter by 0.3%.

Ms Foster added: "I remain committed to assisting businesses through these difficult times and doing all that I can to ensure Northern Ireland is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that arise as we move out of recession."

PA Media