SDLP Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has welcomed an initiative from Ulster University (UU) which shows Northern Ireland’s “real unemployment” figures.
UU has published a labour market intelligence report, including what it terms the “real unemployment” statistics.
Part of the report looks at the number of people over the age of 16 who would like to work, but are unemployed for various reasons including illness and caring responsibilities.
The Foyle MLA said:
“These statistics help to illustrate the scale of the challenge the North faces to create jobs for those who are seeking work. In particular, the analysis highlights the very high level of real unemployment amongst older adults in our population.
“The analysis concludes that there are over 65,000 people in Northern Ireland that represent the "hidden unemployed", who are not included in the official unemployment statistics. These are people who want to work but cannot obtain a job. The exclusion of this group has skewed the statistics to suggest that Northern Ireland is in a better situation regarding unemployment, compared to the rest of the UK, than is actually the case.
“Northern Ireland has an underlying problem of a very high rate of 'economic inactivity' - the highest of any UK region. The most common reasons for economic inactivity include ill health and family caring responsibilities. A large number of lone parents are unable to work because of childcare responsibilities - with this impeding a much higher proportion of lone parents than is the case in GB.
“The Ulster University analysis also highlights the reality that economic inactivity is much more common amongst those adults of working age with the lowest levels of qualifications.
“This new labour market intelligence reports helps us to identify the policy interventions needed to create additional jobs and enable more people to gain employment. At the top of the list are ensuring more people gain the skills and qualifications needed for the modern economy. but it is also clear that we need to do much more to provide affordable childcare, enabling more lone parents to seek employment.”