Business Registration and Employment Survey 2021

Statistics from the 2021 Business Register and Employment Survey were released today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).


Northern Ireland Annual Business Consultation Local Unit Survey Results 2019.

  • The latest statistics from the Northern Ireland Business Registration and Employment Survey (BRES) were released to the public this morning at 9:30am by NISRA. Data refer to 6th September 2021. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will publish the corresponding figures for the whole of the UK on 29th September 2022.
  • BRES is an annual legal survey of businesses that requests information on working owners, employee jobs, and business activity. NISRA would like to thank companies for responding to the survey. Business survey data has a variety of uses. More recently, during the pandemic, they reported the development, implementation and evaluation of COVID-related business support schemes.
  • BRES counts the number of jobs rather than the number of people with a job. As a result, a person who has a full-time job and a part-time job, or someone with two part-time jobs, will be counted twice. The key facts of the bulletin are presented below.

Total employment in Northern Ireland in September 2021 was 823,672

  • Total employment in Northern Ireland in September 2021 was 823,672. Employment includes employees plus the number of working owners who receive sweepstakes and/or a share of profits but are not paid through PAYE. The largest share of working owners was in Construction (6,112 or 14% of total Construction employment).

Employee jobs increased 1.7% for the year to September 2021

  • BRES 2021 indicated that the total number of clerk jobs in Northern Ireland in 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 the top 4 industries: Construction, Manufacturing, Services and Others

  • The Services sector dominated Northern Ireland employee jobs, accounting for 81% (644,469) of the total. The second largest industry was manufacturing with 86,703 jobs (11%), together accounting for more than 9 out of 10 employee jobs (92%) in Northern Ireland.
  • Employee jobs increased in the top 4 industries during the year to September 2021. The increase in employee jobs was driven by growth in the Services sector (11,738 jobs), which was responsible 86% of the total increase.
  • Both construction and manufacturing grew during the year to September 2021, with another 289 (0.8%) jobs in construction and 1,312 (1.5%) jobs in manufacturing. However, growth was slower than the previous year for Construction (3.1%) and the Manufacturing Industry remained (0.7%) below the level of 2019.

Employee jobs increased in both the public and private sectors.

  • BRES 2021 estimated the number of private sector jobs at 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 at NI. This compares to 18% in the UK as a whole.

Clerk work increased in all district council areas in Northern Ireland except Antrim and Newtownabbey and Mid and East Antrim.

  • All Northern Ireland district council areas saw an increase in employee jobs except Antrim and Newtownabbey and Mid and East Antrim, where a decline of 2.2% and 1.7% was seen during year. Belfast saw the largest increase in the number of jobs (6,345 or 2.8%), while Lisburn and Castlereagh saw the largest percentage increase in jobs at 3.7% (or 2,212 jobs).
  • Changes in the work of clerks at the district council area level were primarily driven by increases in the Services industry. This was particularly true of Belfast (6983) and Lisburn and Castlereagh (1630).
  • 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 clerk jobs (14% or 431) .
  • Mid Ulster saw the largest increase in manufacturing jobs for 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 during the year to September 2021 (1.7%) after a decrease the previous year (0.9%). Employee employment estimates for 2021 were 0.9% (6,756) higher than the 2019 estimates.
  • Employee jobs in the Services sector grew during the year to September 2021, recouping losses experienced during the pandemic. Jobs in the service sector were 0.8% (5,315) above 2019 levels. However, the manufacturing industry, although it grew during 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 saw a 2-year decline and jobs in this district council area are estimated to be 4.9% below 2019 levels due to losses in the Services 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 continued declines in manufacturing and service sector losses 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 would like to thank the companies that responded to the Business Registration and Employment Survey (BRES).
  3. The latest statistics from the Northern Ireland Business Registration and Employment Survey (BRES) were released to the public this morning at 9:30am by NISRA. This data was collected on 6th September 2021. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will publish the corresponding figures for the whole of the UK on 29th September 2022.
  4. BRES is an annual survey of companies that requests 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 for disaggregating employee jobs into smaller geographic levels and lower industry levels.
  5. BRES counts the number of jobs rather than the number of people with a job. As a result, a person who has a full-time job and a part-time job, or someone with two part-time jobs, will be counted twice. Estimates of employee work for Northern Ireland, broken down by gender and work pattern, are presented in the bulletin.
  6. The BRES data is broken down by geographical levels of Northern Ireland. Geographic information is based, for the most part, on the location of jobs at the local unit level. Companies often move employees’ jobs from one area to another. This causes changes in the number of employee jobs at the geographical level. Therefore, relocation or change of reporting procedures by large employers may affect the sub-NI analysis of BRES when making annual comparisons.
  7. The BRES Report will be of interest to policymakers, government agencies, the business community, banks, economic commentators, academics, and the general public interested in the local economy.
  8. For media inquiries, please contact the Department of the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk
  9. Comments are welcome and should be sent to:

Responsible statistician:

Andrew Dunn,

Economic and Labor Market Statistics (ELMS),

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

10. To keep up to date with the Department’s news, you can follow us on the following social networks:

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11. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media inquiries only between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends and holidays. The press officer on duty can be reached on 028 9037 8110.

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