Labour Force Survey Religion Report 2016

Date published: 31 January 2018

The Executive Office (TEO) today published the Labour Force Survey Religion Report 2016, which examines the labour market characteristics of Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Statistical news release - OFMDFM

Community Characteristics

Between 1990 and 2016, the proportion of the population aged 16 and over who reported as Protestant decreased by 12 percentage points from 56% to 44%, while the proportion who reported as Catholic increased by four percentage points from 38% to 42%. The proportion reported as ‘other/non-determined’ has more than doubled over the same period (from 6% to 14%).

Economic Activity and Inactivity

Between 1992 and 2016, there have generally been higher levels of economic activity and lower levels of economic inactivity among Protestants compared with Catholics, although there has been a convergence in these rates over the time period.

In 1992, 76% of working age Protestants were economically active, compared with 66% of working age Catholics – a 10 percentage point difference. By 2016, the working age economic activity rate was 75% for Protestants and 74% for Catholics.

In 1992, the working age economic inactivity rate was 24% for Protestants and 34% for Catholics; in 2016, the rates were 25% and 26% respectively.


Between 1992 and 2016 Catholics have generally experienced higher rates of unemployment than Protestants, although the difference between the two rates has decreased over the time period. In 1992, the unemployment rate was 9% for Protestants and 18% for Catholics; in 2016 these rates were 5% and 7% respectively.


A consistently higher proportion of working age Protestants have been in employment compared with their Catholic counterparts between 1992 and 2016. However, this difference has decreased over time – in 1992, 69% of working age Protestants and 54% of working age Catholics were in employment; by 2016 these rates were 71% and 68% respectively.

The report and associated data tables can be downloaded from The Executive Office website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Media enquiries to TEO Press Office on 028 9037 8201. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number on 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
  2. Further information relating to the collection and production of the statistics can be obtained by contacting:
Paul Flynn
The Executive Office
Programme for Government Analytics
Castle Buildings
Stormont Estate

Telephone: 028 9052 2091

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