SDLP Jobs Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has called on Economy Minister Gordon Lyons to work with Executive colleagues to cut the rate of hidden unemployment, which she called "excessive and shocking".
The Foyle MLA said:
“It is welcome that the rate of economic inactivity, or hidden unemployment, has fallen slightly according to the latest labour market statistics. But this must not be allowed to gloss over the fact that NI’s economic inactivity statistics are far above those of the rest of the UK.
“The North’s economic inactivity rate has fallen to 25.9%, but this is way above the UK rate of 21.1%. It is this very large gap which explains the North’s low employment rate of 71.1%, compared to the UK rate of 75.1%. The North has the lowest employment rate of any UK region.
“It is essential that Economy Minister Lyons, along with his Executive colleagues, gets to grip with this continuing, excessive and shocking failure. There are several causes of this, but three in particular stand out – the absence of sufficient affordable childcare, the long health waiting lists and the number of adults without sufficient skills. Addressing these weaknesses requires action by several departments and ministers acting together, namely economy, communities, education and health.
“I am disappointed that improvements in the employment statistics have been felt less in Derry than elsewhere. Derry and Strabane retain the unwanted status of having the highest unemployment rate in the North, while also being near the bottom when it comes to new jobs over the last month and year. This is further evidence that Invest NI needs to do more to attract jobs and investment to Derry and Strabane.”