Northern Ireland jobs market in rude health but still work to do

The number of pay-rolled employees in Northern Ireland has climbed to a record level as the strong recovery in the jobs market continues apace.

That is one of the main findings from the latest government labour market labour market data which also showed a rise in wages and a fall in the dole queue.

A total of 774,900 people were on the payroll in January, according to HMRC, a jump of some 5% on the same time last year and the eighth consecutive month that employee numbers have been above pre-Covid levels.

Earnings, meanwhile, climbed nearly 9% on the year and now stand at an average of £1,941 a month, confirming the recent trend across the UK and Ireland of wage inflation.

The claimant count, meanwhile, stood at 41,200 down over 2% on the previous month and 35% on the May 2020 just after the pandemic had started to bite.

While on the face of it the jobs market looks robust, the claimant numbers do show that it has yet to recover from the full impact of Covid-19, standing 35% higher than the pre-pandemic count in March 2020.

Despite that, latest data from Ulster Bank suggested the wider economy has shrugged off any lingering impact from Covid.

Its PMI report showed business activity in Northern Ireland increased in January, with an uptick in new orders and output.

That comes despite the threat of rising inflation a tight labour market and renewed instability at Stormont.