Business Register and Employment Survey 2020

Date published: 03 August 2021

The Business Register and Employment Survey 2020 statistics were published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA).

Business Register and Employment Survey 2020 statistics
Business Register and Employment Survey 2020 statistics

Data was collected on 7 September 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions were in place in Northern Ireland. Corresponding figures for the whole of the UK will be released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 29 September 2021.

BRES is an annual survey of businesses requesting information on the number of employee jobs and business activity. In 2020, approximately 16,000 businesses (approximately 20% of all VAT and/or PAYE registered businesses in Northern Ireland) were surveyed and an effective response rate of 70% was achieved. The sample size in 2020 allows employee jobs to be disaggregated by District Council area level and Headline industry level (Construction, Manufacturing, Services, and Other [1]).  Larger sample sizes allow for disaggregation to smaller geographical and industry levels.

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. BRES does not include the self-employed in its employee job estimates.  Employee job estimates for Northern Ireland, split by gender and working pattern are presented in the bulletin. Key facts from the bulletin are presented below.

Employee jobs decreased by 0.9% over the year to September 2020

  • BRES 2020 indicated that the total number of employee jobs in Northern Ireland in September 2020 was 779,053. This represents a decrease in employee jobs of 6,817 (-0.9%) from September 2019.

Employee jobs decreased in the Services and Manufacturing industries and increased in Construction and Other industries

  • Employee jobs decreased in the Service industry by 6,423 jobs (-1.0%) over the year to September 2020. There were further job losses in Manufacturing, which decreased by 1,958 jobs (-2.2%).
  • Construction grew over the year to September 2020, with a further 1,093 (3.1%) jobs. The Other headline industry also increased over the year with 471 (2.0%) more jobs.

Employee jobs decreased in the private sector but increased in the public sector

  • BRES 2020 estimated the number of private sector jobs as 566,050 (a decrease of 1.9% over the year) whilst the number of public sector jobs was 213,003 (an increase of 2.0% over the same period).
  • The decline in the private sector (a decrease of 10,914 jobs) was driven by a decrease of 6,034 part-time jobs. The increase in public sector (4,097) jobs was due to a further 3,943 full-time jobs and 154 part-time jobs.

Employee jobs decreased in seven of the 11 District Council Areas

  • Belfast District Council area saw the largest decrease in employee jobs in Northern Ireland with the loss of 4,094 (-1.8%) over the year to September 2020.  Antrim and Newtownabbey and Derry City and Strabane also saw significant declines with the loss of 1,697 jobs (-2.7%) and 1,405 (-2.3%) respectively. 
  • Newry, Mourne and Down was one of four areas in which employee jobs increased with a further 946 jobs (1.6%) over the period.  Ards and North Down saw an increase of 843 jobs (2.1%).  These increases were driven by increases in industries within the Services sector.
  • Employee job increases were also observed in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon as well as in Fermanagh and Omagh.  However, it is important to note that jobs can move from one District Council area to another so an increase in jobs in one area does not necessarily mean that these are new jobs for Northern Ireland and they may be matched to a decline in another area.

[1] Other headline industry includes: agriculture, forestry and fishing; mining and quarrying; electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, and water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities.

Notes to editors: 

1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available at the Business Register and Employment Survey page 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. BRES is an annual survey of businesses requesting information on the number of employee jobs and business activity. In 2020, approximately 16,000 businesses (approximately 20% of all VAT and/or PAYE registered businesses in Northern Ireland) were surveyed and an effective response rate of 70% was achieved. The sample size in 2020 allows employee jobs to be disaggregated by District Council area level and headline industry level. Larger sample sizes allow for disaggregation to smaller geographical and industry levels.

4. BRES provides employee job estimates for Northern Ireland, split by gender and working pattern. 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. The BRES employee job estimates do not include those that are self-employed.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Follow us on Twitter.

8. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk.

9. 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.

10. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician, Arlene Connolly, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), arlene.connolly@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 90529606.

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