Northern Ireland's biggest companies have witnessed a 1.4% increase in employment over the last year despite the difficult economic environment, according to The Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies 2013, in association with Barclays.
Ahead of the publication of the magazine on April 30, we can reveal that the Top 100 companies employed 135,241 people in 2012, according to the most recent data available.
That's up from 133,363 in the previous year and comes amidst declining employment levels in Northern Ireland as a whole over that time.
Latest data shows that 8.4% of people in Northern Ireland are unemployed, up sharply from 6.8% 12 months ago.
The biggest employment increases have been witnessed in the services sector, where employment climbed 4%, the construction-related sector, which was up 1.8%, the distribution and retail sector, up 0.9% and the manufacturing sector, up 0.6%.
Banks and the financial sector, however, were hard hit with employment there falling 2.7%.
But the overall upturn is impressive, particularly when viewed on a ten year basis.
Economist John Simpson, who compiled the list, said Northern Ireland's biggest companies have performed well over that time.
Ten years ago, the analysis of the Top 100 locally based commercial trading businesses showed that the chosen 100 were employing just over 121,000 people. Today, using similar criteria, the Top 100 employ over 135,000 people. The typical larger business qualifying for inclusion is now nearly 12% larger.
"Ten years ago, the analysis of the Top 100 locally-based commercial trading businesses showed that the chosen 100 were employing just over 121,000 people," he said. "Today, using similar criteria, the Top 100 employ over 135,000 people. The typical larger business qualifying for inclusion is now nearly 12% larger."
"Although in 2012 employment has been affected by the recession, the overall total level of employment, in all businesses and including the public sector, is nearly 13% higher than in 2002. The Top 100 have, therefore, expanded in parallel with the wider economy."
The Northern Ireland Top 100 Companies magazine, in association with Barclays, will be published in the Belfast Telegraph on April 30