One out of every five Northern Ireland households here now economically inactive
More than half of all households here were economically active in the first three months of the year, according to new figures.
However, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency's quarterly labour force report has revealed that 20% of households - almost 118,000 - are economically inactive.
The figures have also raised concerns about the level of support available to enable women and people with disabilities to be part of the workforce.
The report has revealed that the number of economically active females with no dependent children between January and March of this year stood at 179,000.
These figures dropped to 75,000 for women with one child, 67,000 for those with two children and 30,000 for those women who have three or more children.
The report has revealed that 106,000 women, or almost three quarters of women in part-time employment, did not want a full-time job.
Aoife Hamilton, policy and information manager at Employers For Childcare, said: "Despite significant progress towards gender equality, it's still predominately mothers who report reducing their hours or leaving the workforce to raise their children.
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"Mothers who are qualified for a range of professions, from quantity surveyors to nurses, have told us that they have had to reduce their hours or work opposite shifts to their partner to reduce their childcare bill.
"As a society we must address this issue, we cannot be educating and training our daughters to be the best in their field whilst continuing to ignore the barrier an inability to access affordable childcare presents to a woman's career progression in particular."
Ms Hamilton said the current situation can be addressed by investing in the childcare infrastructure, ensuring all families are accessing the financial help to which they are entitled and supporting employers and employees to benefit from family friendly working policies.
Meanwhile, the proportion of employed people without a disability stood at 80%, compared to 38% of people with a disability.
Miriam Bacon from Disability Action said she was disappointed by the figures and added that they highlight the need for better support for disabled people who want to work.