Figures released by DETI show that 55,500 people were claiming benefits in May, which is 500 less claimants than the previous month.There has been a fall of 8,400 in the unemployment claimant figures over the last 12 months.The NI claimant count rate remains highest among the 12 UK regions at 6.3%.The Northern Ireland unemployment rate is now 6.9% - which is down 0.6% over the last quarter and 0.9% over the year.The jobless rate in the region is lower than the European Union of 10.5% and Republic of Ireland at 11.8%, but above the UK rate of 6.6%.Just over 50% of those unemployed have been so for one year or more - which represents an 8.8% decrease from one year ago.There was a 0.2% increase in the unemployment rate in young people aged 18-24 over the year which stands at 19.2%.The seasonally adjusted estimates show that there were 711,210 employee jobs in March, which is an increase of 3,310 jobs over the quarter and an annual increase of 15,980 jobs.For the period of February - April, there were 821,000 people in employment, with the corresponding working age employment rate at 68.1%.This is the eighth consecutive quarterly increase in employee jobs.The figures published today provide positive signs across a number of key labour market indicators.Enterprise Minister Arlene FosterCommenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "Both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployment benefit claimants have decreased over the quarter and the year."In addition, the number of employee jobs continues to increase, representing the eighth consecutive quarterly increase in this measure."The rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland compares favourably to the rates in the European Union and the Republic of Ireland."The index of production for the first quarter of 2014 shows that output increased by 0.8%, compared to UK output as a whole which increased by 0.6%.In the service sector, output has decreased by 1.1% over the same period - but over the most recent four quarters it has increased by 1.8%.Ms Foster continued: "There is further good news in terms of the economic output measures, with annual increases in both the Index of Production and Index of Services."This has also been reflected by the latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers' Index, in which firms have reported the sharpest rise in new orders since the survey began in August 2002."Northern Ireland has seen significant investment and job creation recently and Invest NI has been instrumental in much of this, securing over £1bn of investment and promoting 11,000 jobs in its best year end performance to date.""This continued growth in the local economy allows more businesses to invest in research and development, helping them to compete in global markets, as well as providing high quality employment opportunities for local people," she concluded."My department will continue to encourage inward investment by promoting the benefits of Northern Ireland as a cost-competitive location, offering developed infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce."