Labour Force Survey Religion Report 2017

Date published: 31 January 2019

The Executive Office (TEO) today published the Labour Force Survey Religion Report 2017 which examines the labour market characteristics of Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Statistical news release - OFMDFM

Community Characteristics

Between 1990 and 2017, the proportion of the population aged 16 and over who reported as Protestant decreased by 14 percentage points from 56% to 42%, while the proportion who reported as Catholic increased by three percentage points from 38% to 41%. The proportion reported as ‘other/non-determined’ has increase from 6% to 17% over the same period.

Economic Activity and Inactivity

Between 1992 and 2017, there has generally been a higher level of working age economic activity among the Protestant community compared with the Catholic community, although there has been a convergence 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 2017, the working age economic activity rate was 73% for Protestants and 70% for Catholics.

In 1992, the working age economic inactivity rate was 24% for Protestants and 34% for Catholics; in 2017, the rates were 27% and 30% respectively.


Between 1992 and 2017, 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 2017 these rates were 4% for both Protestants and Catholics.


A consistently higher proportion of working age Protestants have been in employment compared with their Catholic counterparts between 1992 and 2017. However, this difference has decreased over time – in 1992, 69% of working age Protestants and 54% of working age Catholics were in employment; by 2017 these rates were 70% and 67% respectively

The report and associated data tables can be downloaded via the Labour Force Survey Religion reports section of 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 on 028 9037 8110.
  2. Further information relating to the collection and production of the statistics can be obtained by contacting:

    The Executive Office
    Programme for Government Analytics
    Castle Buildings
    Stormont Estate
    BT4 3SG
    Telephone: 028 9076 5762

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