Nationality and ethnic origin should be included in the employment monitoring process, according to the head of the agency charged with tracking the numbers.
Extending monitoring will give employers a more accurate assessment of their workforces, said Geraldine McGahey, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, following the publication of the 30th Fair Employment Monitoring Report.
The numbers currently track the make up of the workforce by religion and gender, which is still relevant, said Ms McGahey.
But she added: “It is our longstanding recommendation that monitoring requirements should be extended to include nationality and ethnic origin, to allow employers to make a more accurate and meaningful assessment of fair participation in their organisation.
"Indeed, the Executive has committed, in its Racial Equality Strategy, to examining where ethnic monitoring should be introduced and consulting on proposals for implementation. We look forward to this being progressed."
Of those who described themselves as being from one of two communities, 50.5% of the total workforce is Protestant and 49.5% Catholic, an increase 0.2 percentage points from the previous year.
No community background was determined for 11% of the overall monitored workforce, an increase of 0.1 points.
Data is provided by employers and covers 2019. The total monitored workforce was 564,826 an increase of 1597 (0.3%) over the previous year.
"The monitoring process continues to remain relevant today," said Ms McGahey. "It provides individual employers with information to help them address issues within their own workforce and allows the Commission to work with both private sector employers and public bodies to address the imbalances highlighted from their monitoring."
Women account for 52.3% of the monitored workforce, an increase of 0.5 percentage points. They make up 45.7% of the private sector workforce, but 65.8% of the public sector, the same as the previous year.
In 2019, members of the Catholic community represented 53.1%of all job applicants and Protestants 46.9%.
There was a gradual decrease in the share of Catholic applicants in 2007 and 2018, but that changed with the latest figures. Members of the Catholic community accounted for 53.3% of those appointed to jobs, compared to 46.7% of Protestants, numbers that stayed the same year on year.
“For three decades the monitoring process has made an important contribution to ensuring fair participation in workplaces across Northern Ireland," said Ms McGahey.
“Fair participation in our workplaces ultimately benefits us all and provides a sound foundation for our businesses, economy and society to thrive and succeed.”
The monitored workforce represents 64-65% of the total workforce and includes all public sector employers and all private sector employers with 11 or more employees.