Slight decrease in jobless figure in Ballymena area

Seven Towers roundabout.
Seven Towers roundabout.

The number of people registering as out of work in Ballymena saw a slight fall last month, down 36.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Enterprise, the claimant count in the borough now stands at 1,562, compared to 1,598 (February).

Wards within the borough registering the most claimant counts for unemployment were Castle Demesne with 125 (123 in February), Ballykeel 122 (124) and Dunclug 115 (129) .

The area with the lowest claimant count in February was Slemish with 19 - a drop of five claimants on the previous month.

Province-wide, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell for a 14th month in a row.

According to the official statistics, 700 fewer people were on the register in March.

The total number of jobless is about 57,000.

However, the unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.7%, which is above the UK average of 6.9%.

Other data published on Wednesday revealed that the Northern Ireland economy continued to grow in the final months of 2013.

There have now been three consecutive quarterly increases.

Economy minister Arlene Foster said: “This is good news in relation to economic performance.”

Mrs Foster said the continuing decrease in unemployment benefit claimants was “the most sustained fall since June 1995”, adding: The rate of unemployment in N. Ireland (7.7%) is above that of the UK (6.9%) but compares favourably to the rates in the European Union (10.8%).”