Jobless figures equal across religious divide

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Unemployment rates among Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland are equal, a new report has revealed.

The Labour Force Survey Religion Report for 2015 revealed that jobless figures for both communities stand at 6%.

The report, released yesterday by the Executive Office, indicated that the rates have converged over time, from 1992 when the corresponding rates were 18% for Catholics and 9% for Protestants.

It also showed a decrease in the difference between the proportion of working-age Catholics and Protestants in employment.

In 1992 it was 70% for Protestants and 54% for Catholics, but in 2015 the gap had narrowed to 68% and 67% respectively.

The survey also revealed that between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the population aged 16 and over who reported as Protestant had dropped from 56% to 44%.

However, the proportion who reported as Catholic rose from 38% to 44%.

Meanwhile, over the same period, the proportion of the population reported as “other/non-determined” has doubled from 6% to 12%.

In 2015, Catholics comprised a larger proportion of the working-age (aged 16 to 64) population, while Protestants comprised a larger proportion of the older (aged 60 and over) population.

Between 1992 and 2015, there has generally been a higher level of working-age economic activity among Protestants compared to Catholics, although there has been a convergence over this period.

In 1992, 77% of working-age Protestants were economically active, compared to 66% of working-age Catholics.

But in 2015, the rate was 72% for both Protestants and Catholics; the first year the rates were the same for both communities.