Just to note this extremely bad news on the employment front. 1,200 extra people in NI began claiming unemployment benefit during September, the biggest rise for 22 years. The official jobless total stands at 28,900 but given that the figures are massively massaged to hide the true unemployment figures, we can assume it is much higher than that. Officially though the unemployment rate stands at 4.3%, underneath the 5.7% of the UK as a whole. Of course, the higher figures for disability etc in NI hide massive long-terms structural unemployment that is less well hidden in Britain.
60% of the September increase came from the construction industry. So what can be done about it? Well we have a society with a desperate need for more social housing, where the Minister responsible Margaret Ritchie has made very sensible moves to buy privately-built stock for social housing. Perhaps some government spending could be applied to acutally building new social housing and thus helping to tackle unemployment, instead of giving it away to banks?