Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 12:32 UK

Rise in the number of unemployed

Job Centre scene
The rise in unemployment was blamed in part on the housing slow-down

The number of people in Northern Ireland claiming jobless benefits has had its biggest monthly increase in 22 years, according to the latest figures.

During September, 1,200 more people claimed unemployment related benefits, bringing the jobless total to 28,900.

The construction industry accounted for about 60% of the increase.

Meanwhile, a Canadian communications company has said it will create 60 jobs when it establishes its European headquarters in Northern Ireland.

Economy Minister Arlene Foster said the slow-down in the housing market was having a "large impact" on the level of unemployment.

"The slow-down in the housing market and wider construction industry in particular is having a large impact, with former construction workers accounting for the majority of the rise in benefit claimants during September," she said.

The Northern Ireland unemployment rate rose by 0.2% over the last quarter to 4.3%, which is below the UK average joblessness rate of 5.7%.

Northern Ireland offers many advantages as a regional hub
Gregory Koss
BTI Systems

Mrs Foster welcomed the investment from BTI Systems, which specialises in fibre optics for the internet.

It is investing 6.7m over the next three years and will be employing software engineers.

The project has received backing from Invest NI.

The company is yet to finalise its base, but it is expected to be in the greater Belfast area.

Speaking at the investment announcement, the minister said: "BTI Systems will create 60 high quality software engineering posts over the next three years, delivering an additional 2.3m annually in wages and salaries into the local economy."

Chairman of BTI Systems Gregory Koss said: "The BTI Systems Belfast headquarters will be our main centre of operation in Europe, bringing us closer to new and existing customers and enabling us to continue our rapid growth in the EMEA region.

"Northern Ireland offers many advantages as a regional hub.

"BTI plans to leverage the local talent pool to grow the company's software development efforts, expand its global footprint, and continue to deliver best-in-class technologies and solutions to the European marketplace."

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