Commenting on the figures, Danske Bank Economist Conor Lambe said:
“The latest labour market data shows that the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland has now fallen to 3.9 per cent, lower than the UK rate of 4.3 per cent.
“However, on other indicators, the comparison with the wider UK economy makes for more unpleasant reading. The 68.1 per cent employment rate in Northern Ireland is still considerably below the UK rate of 75.1 per cent and is also the lowest employment rate across all the UK regions.
“Northern Ireland’s inactivity rate of 29.0 per cent is considerably above the 21.5 per cent observed across the UK as a whole. It is the highest of the twelve UK regions.
“The data published today showed a relatively sharp increase in Northern Ireland’s inactivity rate. Given that unemployment fell but employment also came down, it is likely that some people who had previously been without a job but searching for one, stopped looking for work and moved into the economically inactive category.
“Looking at the economically inactive people who are of working age, 18 per cent or around 61,000 people, would like to work. Finding ways to successfully help this relatively large group of people to find a job is not a simple task – the fact that Northern Ireland has had a high rate of inactivity for some time proves that point – but it should be a key aim of policymakers in the years ahead.”
This comment was published in response to the August - October 2017 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA on 13th December 2017.