Another concern is that the number of people registered in work in the region also fell over the same period.

The total number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits in Northern Ireland stood at 44,000.

Some analysts suggest the rise – the first during a quarter since March 2013 – could be a “blip” reflecting business uncertainty in the run-up to the election. The group also includes students and people looking after the family or home.

Despite the latest increase, there has been a fall of 10,400 in the unemployment claimant figures over the last 12 months.

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: “The strength of United Kingdom labour market is something we should take great pride in”. Even though 15.9% of young people are still unemployed, the government’s investment in cutting youth unemployment is clearly starting to pay off. We need to see that kind of commitment for everyone, no matter what age or stage they’re at in their careers.

“The point at which interest rates may begin to rise is moving closer”, Carney told UK Parliament’s Treasury Committee.

“Although unemployment is very marginally up, we believe the previously positive trend in employment growth will return in the second half of the year”.

Sterling jumped on Tuesday as policy makers flagged the prospect of earlier-than-anticipated United Kingdom rate increases. It was the first quarterly fall since April 2013.

Howard Archer, chief United Kingdom and European economist at IHS Global, said: ‘The labour market unexpectedly weakened with the number of jobless rising and employment dipping.

It’s so far been a shaky and fragile economic recovery since the recession – but, generally speaking, the numbers have been going the right way.

“The latest figures on economic activity, also released today, show Scotland’s economy is growing in line with the UK”.

Economists had expected the rate to remain stable at 5.5 percent.

“Last week’s Budget rewards work, backs aspiration, ensures fairness to taxpayers and gives businesses confidence to invest, to grow and to hire in the months and years ahead”. This would be good news for the United Kingdom economy as output per hour has been unchanged the past five years.

Unemployment in the West Midlands has fallen through the six per cent barrier.

Mr Cameron argued that long-term unemployment was still falling and wages were far outstripping inflation.