Jobless figures show 75% increase in benefit uptake

NEW figures tracked down by the Fermanagh Herald lays bare the current  state of the job market in Fermanagh and Omagh with 2,755 people here  claiming unemployment benefits in the period up to December 2020. The figures obtained from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) show that an additional 1,190 people in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area claimed Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit “principally for the reason of being unemployed” 
compared to the previous year. Of the 2,755 claimants 1,740 are listed as males of working age and the remaining 1,015 as female.
The figure also represents a staggering 75.9% increase in the uptake of unemployment benefits in our area since the Covid-19 pandemic struck just under a year a year ago. However, the December figures are down by 80 people or 2.8% on the month previous.
The details show that 4.8% of males of working age in Fermanagh and Omagh are claiming unemployment benefits while 2.9% of those claiming are women. In total, that equates to 3.8% of working age adults in this area receiving Jobseekers Allowance and/or Universal Credit because they are unemployed.
Meanwhile, The estimated unemployment rate from the Labour Force Survey for the period October 2019 – September 2020 for Fermanagh and Omagh was 2.3%.
Since March last year, many other local employees have been furloughed from work on the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) but the NISRA statistics show there have been few redundancies in Fermanagh and Omagh.
However, since businesses are only required by law to notify HMRC of a proposal to make redundant 20 or more employees, the figures do not include businesses who make less than 20 redundancies on their books.
The area reported no redundancies up until July when 20 people reported to HMRC and benefits  agencies that they had been made redundant from their work. There were no redundancies reported for Fermanagh and Omagh again until October when 30 employees were noted as having been made redundant here.
While exact figures do not yet exist for the number of people furloughed from work in the council area, we can say that the take up rate here was between six to eight per cent. The statistics available nationally point to the fact that the accommodation and food services sector, a vital lifeline in the Fermanagh employment market, has been worst affected by Covid restrictions with 65% of staff in this group being furloughed.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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