UK unemployment falls as a whole while it rises in Northern Ireland
Unemployment in the UK has fallen by 51,000 in the months February to April, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
There are now 2.61 million people out of work in the UK, equating to 8.2 per cent of the population. The figures take the total number of people in work in the UK to 29.28 million. This increase of 166,000 on the quarter is the largest increase since August 2010.
While the 0.2 per cent drop from the previous quarter is good news for the UK as a whole, with the ONS saying unemployment shows signs of 'some improvement', Northern Ireland's rate of unemployment continues to rise.
In the same quarter, its rate of unemployment rose by 0.6 per cent to 7.1 per cent, leaving a further 7,500 people out of a job.
Although unemployment in Northern Ireland remains below the UK average, the figures reveal that the number of those in work has decreased in 14 of the 15 quarters since its peak in 2008.
Talking to the BBC, Northern Ireland's enterprise minister Arlene Foster said: "Whilst it is apparent that wider economic issues are continuing to put pressure on the labour market in Northern Ireland, our current unemployment rate of 7.1% still compares favourably to the equivalent rates for the UK (8.2%), European Union (10.9%) and Republic of Ireland (14.5%)."
Across the UK, the major downward pressure on unemployment came from men, down 49,000, while female unemployment fell by only 1,000. Youth unemployment also fell, leaving just over one million without a job.
More people are turning to self-employment, with the number in this group increasing by 84,000 over the quarter to 4.17 million - the highest level since comparable records began in 1992.
The ONS also found that unlike previous months, where the employment rise had been led by part-time workers, this increase was evenly spread between both part-time and full-time workers.
Employment minister Chris Grayling told the BBC: "This time we're seeing a very healthy increase in full-time jobs and that's clearly very welcome."