Report shows Protestants still majority in workplace
The split between Protestants and Catholics in the Northern Ireland workforce is 53.7% and 46.3%, according to new figures.
The figures are in the Equality Commission's 22nd Annual Monitoring Report on the make-up of the workforce monitored for fair employment.
The report studied the returns for 2011 from 3,808 employers.
The total number of people employed was 509,842 - a fall of 2,884 on the previous year.
Every company in Northern Ireland with 11 or more employees is required by law to fill in a monitoring return every year to establish how processes to ensure the fair employment of those who are, or who may be perceived to be, Protestant or Catholic are working.
The Catholic composition of the monitored workforce (46.3%) reflects the latest estimates from Labour Force Survey's (LFS) of Catholics of working age (43.3% to 46.5%).
The report shows there were more Catholic (51.6%) than Protestant (48.4%) applicants for jobs for a third consecutive year.
This trend is also reflected in the breakdown of people appointed to jobs - Catholics (52.1%), Protestant (47.9%).
In Northern Ireland, 52.7% of the monitored workforce is female and 47.3% male, proportionally unchanged from 2010.
The private sector accounts for 63.5% of the total workforce, and this year, with an increase of 0.2% (622 employees) saw its first period of growth since 2008.
The increase in this sector was driven by a rise in full-time employment of 0.4% (956 employees).
The community proportions of employees in the private sector was (54%) Protestant and (46%) Catholic.
The public sector workforce - 36.5% of the total monitored workforce, is (53.2%) Protestant and (46.8%) Catholic.
Nearly two thirds (64.1%) of it is female. The female proportion of the public sector part-time workforce is even larger at 76.9%.
Commenting on the report Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said: "This year's returns show that the composition of the monitored workforce is broadly in line with the community shares of those available for work.
"There has been a continuation of the consistent and gradual change, year on year, which has seen the Catholic share of the monitored workforce rise by six percentage points over the last decade," he said.
Mr Wardlow said the information in the monitoring report enabled the Equality Commission to consider "broad trends", such as these in the overall workforce and in the different sectors and types of employment.
"The report considers the returns from the public and private sectors, looks at those in part-time and full-time work and sets out the proportions of men and women in the monitored workforce," he said.
"This aggregated information provides an overview of the Northern Ireland workforce which informs all involved in efforts to achieve and maintain fair participation in individual employments and in the wider workforce."