Largest drop in 16 yrs takes unemployment rate to 7.1pc

The largest drop in the number of people without a job in the UK since the autumn of 1997 has taken the rate of unemployment to 7.1 per cent - just 0.1 per cent off the target at which the Bank of England will consider raising interest rates.

In the three months to November the number of unemployed people in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK fell by 167,000 - the largest drop in 16 years. The statistics are a positive indicator of the extent of the economic recovery in the UK, but will get more headlines for potentially bringing on a sooner than expected increase in interest rates, as per the forward guidance policy issued by the Bank of England governor last year.

Mark Carney had seemingly assured mortgage borrowers and businesses that interest rates would continue frozen for another two to three years when he advised that an increase would not be considered until the rate of unemployment hit 7 per cent. However, the economy is growing faster than expected and the target rate of unemployment is looking likely to be hit in the first quarter of this year. That will not automatically trigger an interest rate increase, but certainly puts it on the table for discussion.

The fall in unemployment is particularly positive in terms of the number of 18-24 year olds who are now in a job; the age group which has struggled most during the post recession years to get into employment. There is also said to be a large decrease in the number of people in long-term unemployment, which has for some time remained fairly stagnant.

If you are an employer or employee in Northern Ireland requiring legal advice in respect of a matter of employment law contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 9296.

Or, if you are considering remortgaging your property in light of the prospect of an increase in interest rates in the near future, contact one of the property conveyancing solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 9296.