Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has welcomed the latest unemployment figures showing the number of benefit claimants has fallen to 55,500. However, pointing out that this figure does not accurately reflect the true numbers out of work, Mr Flanagan urged the Executive to pay attention to those deemed economically inactive.
Speaking today, Mr Flanagan, Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee said:
“While the latest figures indicating a further fall in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits are welcome, I believe that these figures do not reflect the economic reality.
"According to the Office for National Statistics, a further 54,000 people here are deemed to be economically inactive but want to work.
"This group of people for one reason or another are not eligible to claim unemployment or job seekers allowance and as such are not included in the official statistics. While the increase in the numbers of employee jobs and the decrease in unemployment claimants are to be welcomed, the official out of work figures would double overnight if economically inactive were to be included.
“I would therefore, while not letting up on reducing the claimant numbers, like to see much more proactive effort put into assisting the economically inactive become active.
"Despite all of the positive soundings about economic growth, financial hardship is still the order of the day for far too many of our people. Too many people are being left behind because they don’t impact on official statistics. We are still a long way off the recovery that our communities require and deserve.” CRÍOCH/END