Published Wednesday, 18 January 2012
An estimated 59,000 people are out of work across the region, a rate of 6.8%, which is down by 7,000 over both the quarter and year.
The figures, released by the Department of Enterprise on Wednesday, compare favourably to the UK average of 8.4% and the Republic of Ireland's 14.3%.
However the number of people claiming benefits in NI has gone up - rising by 100 in December to reach a total of 60,700.
With 20% of youths in NI out of work, Sara Boyce from Include Youth said the region is at "a very critical juncture".
We've young people who are in their teens and moving into early adulthood who are looking at a future of no opportunities.
Include Youth's Sara Boyce
"One of our concerns is that NEET - young people not in education, employment or training - does not fall down the priority list.
"All government departments have responsibility for this issue in some form or other, so at Executive level there needs to be much more of a commitment."
But without experience in the workplace, many of those young adults feel they could be left behind.
Some of those who take part in training at Include Youth spoke to UTV about their fears for their future.
Part of me thinks I'm going to be stuck on the brew for the rest of my life as it's getting harder and harder to find jobs out there.
Steven, training at Include Youth
DETI Minister Arlene Foster said the figures are "encouraging" but said the local economy is still suffering the effects of the downturn.
She said: "It was encouraging to note the latest labour market figures for Northern Ireland, which showed a rise in employment and a fall in unemployment during the latest quarter.
"However, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits continued to edge upwards and the recent announcement of redundancies by the Ulster Bank provided an unwelcome reminder that the local economy is still experiencing the fall-out from the global financial crisis."
There are currently an estimated at 803,000 people working in Northern Ireland.
Output from the production sector rose by 5.2% between the second and third quarters of 2011, while services rose by 1.9% in the same period - both are ahead of UK averages.
DUP minister Ms Foster added: "I still firmly believe that there are opportunities out there for local businesses to grow.
"Companies from Northern Ireland have a justified reputation for producing high quality, customer-focused products and services and there is no reason why they cannot compete successfully in the wider global marketplace.
"In order to rebalance our economy, it is imperative that more of our businesses take advantage of export markets and exploit the opportunities that exist there."
© UTV News