THE number of unemployed people in the Dungannon area has dropped by one of the highest levels in recent years - the latest in a series of encouraging signs that point towards a nascent economic recovery.
Broken down to distict council level, the government figures show that the number of claimants in the Dungannon area has dropped by 134 (8.2 per cent), Omagh 103 (6.0 per cent), Cookstown 98 (9.2 per cent) and Strabane 23 (1.2 per cent).
Last week, the Tyrone Times reported how the Mid-Ulster area is emerging as Northern Ireland’s rising star in terms of economic growth, with the region enjoying the strongest job boom of any of the new super council areas outside of Belfast.
A total of 778 new jobs was created in Mid Ulster by Invest Northern Ireland’s Jobs Fund in the past year, greater than Derry’s 456, and just behind Belfast’s 1035. Dungannon District had 396 new jobs, Cookstown 231 and Magherafelt 151.
The local area’s dramatic emergence as an industrial heartland has been linked to the strong presence of engineering and food processing firms and the dramatic rise in the local population.
According to separate figures released by the Department of Finance, a total of 70 companies in the local area had a turnover of more than £5m last year, with a further 3,325 successful businesses in sectors ranging from food and agricultural companies, to construction, retail, manufacturing, property and transport.
According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, there were 59,500 people claiming unemployment benefit in the North during December – down 600 from the month before.
The statistic makes December the 11th month in a row in which there has been a fall in the claimant count. And the separate Labour Force Survey said the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland was 7.3% for September to November – unchanged from the previous quarter and down from 7.9% on the same time in 2013. However, the rate was above the UK level of 7.1%.