Work and religion

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Throughout the last decade, employment rates have been somewhat lower for Catholics than for Protestants.  For example, in 2010, 63% of working-age Catholics were working compared to 71% of working-age Protestants, a difference of eight percentage points.
  • Employment rates for Protestants have been broadly constant throughout the last decade, always being in the 71-73% range.  By contrast, employment rates for Catholics appear to have increased between 2004 to 2007 (from 62% to 67%) before falling back in the period to 2010 (from 67% to 63%).
  • For all age groups, unemployment rates for Catholics are higher than for Protestants.  On average, 5% of working-age Catholics are unemployed compared with 4% of working-age Protestants.
  • For all age groups, economic inactivity rates for Catholics are higher than for Protestants.  The differences are particular great in the older age groups and, for example, around 40% of Catholics aged in their 50s are working compared with 30% of Protestants.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows, over time, the proportion of the working-age population who are employed, with the data shown separately for Catholics and Protestants.

The second graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion of the population who are unemployed for selected age groups in Northern Ireland varies between Catholics and Protestants.

‘Unemployment’ is the ILO definition, which is used for the official government unemployment numbers.  It comprises all those with no paid work in the survey week who were available to start work in the next fortnight and who either looked for work in the last month or were waiting to start a job already obtained.

The third graph shows how the proportion of the population who are economically inactive varies by age and religious denomination.

The economically inactive are those who are neither working nor unemployed.  It includes both people who want paid work but are not actively seeking it plus those who do not want paid work.

The data source for all the graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS).  The figures for each year are the average for the four quarters of the relevant year.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data in the second and third graphs is averaged over the latest three years.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The LFS is large, a well-established, quarterly government survey designed to be representative of the population as a whole.