HC Deb 02 March 2004 vol 418 c868W
Mr. Trimble

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the likely trends in unemployment in Northern Ireland in 2004–05; and if he will make a statement. [157275]

Mr. Pearson

The Government does not produce forecasts for unemployment. The Northern Ireland economy has benefited from the stability generated by the UKs strong macroeconomic framework while the performance of the labour market in particular has proved resilient in the face of global economic uncertainty.

Current Labour Market Statistics show that employment is at record levels and claimant unemployment is at its lowest rates since the mid 1970s. According to the Labour Force Survey, however, figures for the period October to December 2003 show a rise in the rate to 6.3 per cent. (48,000 people) from 5.6 per cent. a year earlier. This is still 1.7 percentage points lower than the EU15 average.