Friday, June 22, 2007

Unemployment among Catholics is twice that of Protestants in the north of Ireland

James Stinson:

The gap has narrowed since 1990 but in employment as in many other areas, Catholics are still worse off than Protestants, according to official figures.

They are contained in the latest edition of the government's 'Labour Force Survey Religion Report'. The survey was carried out in 2005 but the figures have just been released.

It shows that in 2005 Catholics accounted for around six out of 10 unemployed people in Northern Ireland with 19,000 Catholics

unemployed compared to 12,000 Protestants – despite Protestants making up the majority of the population.

While there is an obvious disparity in the fortunes of the two communities and their success in finding work, the same report does highlight an improving situation over the last decade and a half.

Unemployment rates have decreased significantly in both communities with the fall greatest among Catholics.

The gap between the respective unemployment rates has fallen from 9% in 1992 to 4% in 2005.

Still, ironing out the inequalities between the two communities will not happen overnight. In almost every area covered in the report – from housing to employment – it paints an unbalanced picture for the minority community.

Protestants are more likely to have a job and own their own house whereas lone parent families are more common among Catholics. Catholics are also more likely to be on disability or sickness benefits.

Both communities fare badly in this respect, with one in five adults in Northern Ireland claiming to have a disability.

Catholics make up a greater proportion of the population than they did in 1990. Among the young they are now the majority.

The Protestant population is older, accounting for more than six in 10 people aged 60 or over.

At the other end of the age scale, Catholics account for 47% of people aged between 16 and 24 – up from 44% in 1990. That compares to 46% Protestants – down from 49% in 1990.

Another area where Catholics are in the majority is in education where a far higher proportion (9%) are full-time students compared to Protestants (5%).

Protestants account for 53% of the aged-16-plus population (down from 56% in 1990), while Catholics account for 40% (up from 38%), with 7% other.

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