Jobless in North up by 100 in February


Unemployment in Northern Ireland edged up by 100 last month, bringing the number of people out of work to 60,500.

The North's economy minister, Mr Adam Ingram, said the rise was a sign of challenges. He said the North could face a future without jobs or prosperity if the peace process failed.

"The seasonally adjusted claimant count for February shows that unemployment rose by 100 to 7.9 per cent of the workforce. A small rise in unemployment last month is the sign of the challenges facing the Northern Ireland economy and underlines the importance of achieving a political settlement."

The Belfast District Council area has the highest number of people unemployed with 13,000 out of work. The Derry District Council area has over 5,000 people unemployed. In Newry and Mourne, more than 3,000 are out of work.

The British government also published statistics for last December which showed that a record number of people - 595,190 - were in work in Northern Ireland last year, 9,000 more than ever before.

Mr Ingram said these figures, combined with the unemployment statistics, showed there was hope for the economy. "If we are to confront and overcome those challenges, we need stability.

"In simple terms, agreement means investment, jobs and prosperity; the alternative could mean the opposite," he said. It was "a stark, yet simple choice".