1,683 out of work in Ballymena

FIGURES released on Wednesday show that the unemployment rate in Ballymena has fallen slightly in the past month.

The current unemployed total, which is for the month of September, stands at 1,683 which is 326 less claimants than the previous month (1,709).

Broken down into wards, Dunclug had the highest total unemployed on 134 (140 the previous month) Ballee was next highest with its claimant count of 130 (119 in August), followed by Ballykeel on 115 (112 claimants the previous month)

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The ward with the least unemployment as of September was Slemish with 22 claimants, down four from 26 in August.

Province-wide, the unemployment rate has continued to rise.

Between June and August 2012, the number of people out of work in the region rose by more than one per cent to 8.1%, the latest statistics from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency reveal.

That means more people are unemployed in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK, where the average rate is 7.9%, but the figures remain lower than the EU and Republic of Ireland, where more than one 10th of people are out of work.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the continued increase is disappointing and highlights challenges faced by the local labour market.

“Northern Ireland is a small open economy and we cannot expect to remain unaffected by the continued uncertainty in markets around the world,” she commented.

“In the face of these challenges, it is important that local businesses continue to look for export opportunities in the wider global economy.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the region is the second highest across the 12 UK regions, and while the dole queue in Northern Ireland is getting longer, it is getting shorter in the UK as a whole.

“I believe there is still significant demand for our products and skills overseas that can help create the jobs we need to drive expansion at home,” said Minister Foster.