Sinéad McLaughlin: Dip in Derry unemployment welcome but more progress needed

Sinéad McLaughlin says a small decrease in the Derry unemployment rate is good news but wants far more progress on job creation in the north west.

Sinéad McLaughlin
Sinéad McLaughlin

She was speaking as the latest labour market figures showed the Derry/ Strabane claimant count now stands at 5.8%, a fall of 0.4% in the last month.

The local rate remains the highest in the North, where the average is 3.9%.

“The latest unemployment figures are good news, but not as good as they could be. While there has been a 0.4% reduction in claimant count unemployment in Derry and Strabane, this compares to a fall of 5.8% in Mid Ulster.

“This difference illustrates the uneven nature of the economic recovery. However, careful study of the figures shows other really important messages. While the employment rate is increasing in Britain, it has fallen in the North of Ireland. This proves we need to do more to tackle the reasons why people are unable to participate in the employment market.

“There are two obvious reasons for this. One is the lack of affordable childcare, which previous studies have shown is a particular problem in and around Derry and is generally less available in the North of Ireland than in GB. This prevents many women, in particular, from working.

“The second key factor is the much higher percentage of people here who are unable to work because of illness or disability. We already know that while all of the UK’s NHS is struggling with the pandemic, our health service in the North of Ireland was already in crisis prior to Covid," she said.