Employment Trends

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Conservative, Harborough

What recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of employment in Northern Ireland.

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I am happy to confirm that the latest labour market statistics for Northern Ireland show employment at a record high and unemployment at a record low. This is a long-term and consistently improving trend, and with continued political stability, we hope that it will continue in future.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Conservative, Harborough

Those are very welcome statistics. What is my hon. Friend doing to further grow employment and jobs in Northern Ireland and the rest of the country?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I am delighted to give some examples. Not only is unemployment now the lowest of the UK nations, at 2.9%, but the ratio of public sector to private sector jobs is rebalancing healthily. Exports have grown to more than £10 billion, and we expect a tourism surge from the golf open at Portrush. We will continue to pursue those and other measures, including the city deals that have just been mentioned.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Employment levels are improving, as the Minister has said, but does he agree that we need to attract above-average salary levels now to try to grow the economy? In that respect, the Heathrow logistics hub is an excellent project. Will he join me in pressing and persuading those behind the hub to look at Ballykelly, which is a very attractive environment?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

The hon. Gentleman is a doughty battler for his constituents and for his constituency. I am sure that those involved will have heard his words and will be considering them carefully, but he is right about that and many other examples of important local investment in Northern Ireland.