The headlines in Northern Ireland’s latest labour market statistics make for pleasant reading.
Unemployment is continuing to fall and fresh record highs and lows were established for the employment and economic inactivity rates respectively.
However, these headlines conceal a significant divergence with respect to gender. Male unemployment has risen significantly from 6.2% in Q4 2015 to 7.3% for Q3 2016. Meanwhile the corresponding rate amongst females has plummeted from 5.7% in Q1 2016 to 3.7% in Q3 2016.
This gender story partly reflects the contrasting fortunes between the male dominated manufacturing sector and the retail and hospitality sectors that have high concentrations of female workers.
While the male unemployment rate is almost double that for females, spare a thought for the younger generation.
The unemployment rate for the 18-24 year olds is almost three times higher than Northern Ireland’s average at 15%.
This is still well below the 1 in 4 reading recorded three years ago but it has started to rise in the latest quarter.
Youth unemployment and more significantly male unemployment are the issues to keep an eye on in the months ahead.