The Monitoring Report looks at the 'monitored workforce', which comprises all public sector employers and private sector concerns with 11 or more employees. It thereby included, in 2008, 529,857 employees (of whom 447,654 full-time, and 82,203 part-time).
The Report contains a wealth of fascinating detail about the composition and evolution of the Northern Irish workforce in terms of community background. The Report breaks down its data by community background, gender, full or part-time nature, Standard Occupational categories, public or private employment, and so on. The quantity of data contained in the Report is too great to discuss fully in a single blog entry, so this blog will limit itself to a number of key details:
Overall, for all employees (full or part-time)
- The total monitored workforce now stands at 529,857 employees, a rise of 0.7% or 3,646 since 2007.
- In 2008, the overall composition of those for whom a community could be determined was 54.8% Protestant and 45.2% Catholic.
- Total Protestant employment fell by 1,808 (0.7%) during the year, while the Catholic count increased by 4,495 (2.1%). As a result, the Catholic share rose from 44.6% to 45.2%.
In the private sector, for all employees (full or part-time)
- The total private sector workforce now stands at 339,904 employees, an increase of 5,712 employees (1.7%) since 2007.
- The composition was 54.8% Protestant and 45.2% Catholic.
- Total Catholic private sector employment increased by 3,846 employees (2.8%) during the year, while the Protestant count grew by 644 (0.4%). As a result, the Protestant share of the private sector fell from 55.4% in 2007 to 54.8% in 2008.
And in the public sector, for all employees (full or part-time)
- The total public sector workforce now stands at 189,953 employees, a fall of 2,066 employees (1.1%) since 2007.
- The composition was 54.6% Protestant and 45.4% Catholic.
-Total Protestant public sector employment fell by 2.4% or 2,452 employees during the year, while the Catholic count increased by 649 (0.8%). As a result, the Catholic share of the public sector rose from 44.6% in 2007 to 45.4% in 2008.
Within these totals there can be more mixed figures – for example, while the overall Protestant share in the private sector dropped, the Protestant share amongst part-timers in the private sector rose slightly. But the overall picture remains one of Catholic advance and Protestant retreat.
Some of the clearest and most striking sections are the graphs that show the evolution over the period from 2001 to 2008. For example, the evolution of the entire monitored workforce over the period:
The graph above, showing the evolution of the whole monitored workforce, clearly shows that Catholics are steadily increasing their share of the workforce. The graph below shows how this is happening. As a proportion of job applicants, Catholics have now caught up with Protestants:
This reflects the increasing proportion of Northern Ireland's young people who are from the Catholic community. In addition to those shown in the graph above, the community background of another 15% of applicants was 'non-determined'. No assumptions can be made about these people, of course, but given the generations of discrimination that Catholics have endured, it would not be unlikely that Catholic applicants would disguise their community origins more often than Protestant applicants.
2008 was, of course, an unusual year, with the economic crisis starting to affect the workforce and in particular the numbers of jobs available and the numbers of applicants for these. Yet the numbers in the monitored workforce actually increased overall in 2008, and the workforce peaked in October 2008. The Monitoring Report for 2009 – to be published in December 2010 – will provide an interesting insight into how the recession has influenced the community breakdown of Northern Ireland's workforce. However, even if the recession causes some unusual figures, the evolution over the long-term seems to be constant and consistent with a growing Catholic share of the population. As Protestants form a large majority of those at older ages, especially those coming to retirement age, the 'greening' of the workforce is due to continue for the foreseeable future.