Business Register and Employment Survey 2021

Date published: 30 June 2022

The Business Register and Employment Survey 2021 statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA).

NEETs statistics
NEETs statistics
  • The latest Northern Ireland Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) statistics were released to the public this morning at 9.30am by NISRA.  The data relate to 6th September 2021.  Corresponding figures for the whole of the UK will be released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 29th September 2022.
  • BRES is an annual statutory survey of businesses requesting information on working owners, employee jobs and business activity. NISRA wishes to thank businesses for responding to the survey. Business survey data have a range of uses. Most recently during the pandemic they informed the development, implementation, and evaluation of COVID-related business support schemes.
  • BRES counts the number of jobs rather than the number of persons with a job.  As a result, a person holding both a full-time job and a part-time job, or someone with two part-time jobs, will be counted twice. Key facts from the bulletin are presented below.

The total employment in Northern Ireland at September 2021 was 823,672

  • The total employment in Northern Ireland at September 2021 was 823,672.  Employment includes employees plus the number of working owners, who receive drawings and/or a share of the profits but are not paid via pay-as-you-earn (PAYE).  The largest proportion of working owners was in Construction (6,112 or 14% of total Construction employment).

Employee jobs increased by 1.7% over the year to September 2021

  • BRES 2021 indicated that the total number of employee jobs in Northern Ireland at September 2021 was 792,626.  This represents an increase in employee jobs of 13,573 (1.7%) from September 2020 and 6,756 (0.9%) from 2019.

Employee jobs increased in all 4 headline industries: Construction, Manufacturing, Services and Other

  • The Service sector dominated employee jobs in Northern Ireland, accounting for 81% (644,469) of the total.  The second largest industry was Manufacturing with 86,703 jobs (11%), and together they accounted for over 9 in every 10 employee jobs (92%) in Northern Ireland.
  • Employee jobs increased in all 4 headline industries over the year to September 2021. The increase in employee jobs was driven by growth in the Service sector (11,738 jobs), which was responsible for 86% of the total increase.
  • Construction and Manufacturing both grew over the year to September 2021, with a further 289 (0.8%) Construction jobs and 1,312 (1.5%) Manufacturing jobs.  However, growth was slower than in the previous year for Construction (3.1%), and Manufacturing remained (0.7%) below the 2019 level.

Employee jobs increased in both the public and private sectors

  • BRES 2021 estimated the number of private sector jobs as 578,413, an increase of 2.2% (12,363) over the year.  The number of public sector jobs was 214,213, an increase of 0.6% (1,210) over the same period.
  • The public sector accounts for 27% of employee jobs in NI. This compares to 18% in UK as a whole.

Employee job increased in all district council areas in Northern Ireland except for Antrim and Newtownabbey and, Mid and East Antrim.

  • All district council areas in Northern Ireland saw an increase in employee jobs except for Antrim and Newtownabbey and, Mid and East Antrim, where a decrease of 2.2% and 1.7% was observed over the year.  Belfast experienced the largest increase in number of jobs, (6,345 or 2.8%) whereas Lisburn and Castlereagh saw the largest percentage increase in employee jobs at 3.7% (or 2,212 jobs).
  • Employee job changes at district council area level were mostly driven by increases in the Service industry. This was particularly true of Belfast (6,983) and Lisburn and Castlereagh (1,630).
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon saw the largest increase in Construction jobs over the year (15% or 592), while Derry City and Strabane saw a decline in Construction employee jobs (14% or 431).
  • Mid Ulster saw the largest increase in Manufacturing jobs over the year (4.8% or 781).  Of the 11 district council areas 3 saw a decline in Manufacturing jobs:  Belfast (6.1% or 568); Derry City and Strabane (3.2% or 192); and Mid and East Antrim (6.0% or 408).

Total employee jobs in Northern Ireland were 0.9% higher than in 2019 

  • Employee jobs in Northern Ireland increased over the year to September 2021 (1.7%) following a decline the previous year (0.9%).  Employee job estimates for 2021 were 0.9% (6,756) higher than the 2019 estimate. 
  • Employee jobs in the Service sector grew over the year to September 2021 regaining loses experienced during the pandemic.  Service sector jobs were 0.8% (5,315) above 2019 levels. However, Manufacturing, whilst growing over the year to September 2021 (1,312 or 1.5%) remained lower than in 2019 (646 or 0.7%).  Employee jobs in the Construction sector continued to grow and were 3.9% (1,382) above the 2019 estimate. 
  • Antrim and Newtownabbey experienced a 2-year decline with jobs in this district council area estimated to be 4.9% below 2019 levels driven by losses in the Service sector.  Employee jobs in Derry City and Strabane, and Mid and East Antrim remained below 2019 levels (2.0% and 2.8%, respectively) due to continuing declines in Manufacturing and losses in the Service sector in these areas.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available on the NISRA website
  2. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the businesses who responded to the Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES).
  3. The latest Northern Ireland Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) statistics were released to the public this morning at 9.30am by NISRA.  These data were collected on 6 September 2021.  Corresponding figures for the whole of the UK will be released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 29 September 2022.
  4. BRES is an annual survey of businesses requesting information on the number of employee jobs and business activity.  In 2021, approximately 34,000 businesses (approximately 44% of all VAT and/or PAYE registered businesses in Northern Ireland) were surveyed and an effective response rate of 72% was achieved.  The sample size in 2021 allows employee jobs to be disaggregated to smaller geographical levels and to lower industry levels.
  5. BRES counts the number of jobs rather than the number of persons with a job.  As a result, a person holding both a full-time job and a part-time job, or someone with two part-time jobs, will be counted twice.  Employee job estimates for Northern Ireland, split by gender and working pattern are presented in the bulletin. 
  6. The BRES data are disaggregated at sub-Northern Ireland geographical levels.  The geographical information is, for the most part, based on the location of the jobs at a local unit level.  Businesses often relocate employee jobs from one area to another.  This causes changes in employee job counts at geographical levels.  The relocation or change of reporting procedures by large employers can therefore affect BRES sub-NI analysis when making annual comparisons.
  7. The BRES Report will be of interest to policy makers, public bodies, the business community, banks, economic commentators, academics and the general public with an interest in the local economy.
  8. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk 
  9. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Andrew Dunn,

Economic & Labour Market Statistics (ELMS),

andrew.dunn@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 90529437

10. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

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11. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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