Belfast Telegraph

Catholics to be majority of workforce in Northern Ireland for first time in 2020, new figures suggest

Proportion of Catholics in employment continues to increase by 1% a year.
Proportion of Catholics in employment continues to increase by 1% a year.
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

The number of Catholic workers in Northern Ireland looks like overtaking Protestant employees for the first time next year, new figures indicate.

The proportion of Catholics in employment is continuing to close on the number of Protestants by 1% a year.

In 2001 there was an almost 60-40 split between the communities, but if the trend continues, next year will see the number of Catholics in a job overhaul Protestants.

Figures revealed in the latest Equality Commission Fair Employment Monitoring Report show 250,850 (46.4 %) of the local workforce in 2017 as Protestant, 240,275 (44.4%) Catholic and 59,772 (9.2%) non-determined.

The number of women with jobs exceeds the number of men within both - 24.0% to 20.4% in the Catholic workforce and 23.8% to 22.6% in the Protestant workforce.

"Based on 3,728 valid monitoring returns which the Commission received from employers during 2017, this year's report shows that, when we consider only employees from Roman Catholic and Protestant community backgrounds, 51.1% of the workforce was Protestant and 48.9% was Roman Catholic," Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission said.

"On the same basis, Roman Catholics comprised more than half of job applicants in 2017, at 53.1%, and appointees, at 53.0%.

"This continues a broad trend of increasing Roman Catholic applicants and appointees to the monitored workforce, which has been evident during the period 2001-2017."

The report also looked at the breakdown by profession, with health and education jobs both dominated by females - 81% in health and 80% in education.

There are also more Catholics working in these two professions (53% in health and 51% in education), while 73% of those employed in security-related jobs are Protestant.

Figures: Dr Michael Wardlow
Figures: Dr Michael Wardlow

The monitored workforce consists of an estimated 66-68% of those in employment.

Those not monitored include people working in private sector concerns with 10 or less employees and the self-employed.

Belfast Telegraph


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