The size of the Northern Ireland workforce monitored by the Equality Commission has fallen by 0.6% in 2011, its annual report said today.
According to the commission, there were 509,842 workers in the province, down 0.6% on 2010, which was less than the previous year's 0.9% fall.
Just under 54% of the workforce was Protestant and the remainder Catholic.
Chief commissioner Michael Wardlow said: "This year's returns show that the composition of the monitored workforce is broadly in line with the community shares of those available for work.
"There has been a continuation of the consistent and gradual change, year on year, which has seen the Catholic share of the monitored workforce rise by six percentage points over the last decade.
"The Catholic composition of the monitored workforce [46.3%] reflects the latest estimates from Labour Force Survey surveys of Catholics of working age ."
For the third year in a row, there were more Catholic (51.6%) than Protestant applicants for jobs. More Catholics than Protestants were appointed for jobs.
Just under 54% of the monitored workforce were female.
The private sector accounted for 63.5% of the workforce, and with an increase of 622 employees, saw its first period of growth since 2008. That was driven by a rise in full-time employment of 0.4%.
Around 54% of private sector employees were Protestant and 46% Catholic. The public sector workforce was 53.2% Protestant and 46.8% Catholic. Nearly two-thirds were female. Women also accounted for just under 77% of the public sector part-time workforce.
The report was based on returns from 3,808 employers.