Unemployment among Catholics remains twice that of Protestants, despite advances in the peace process and increasing employment north of the border.
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 the Six Counties, with 19,000 Catholics unemployed compared to 12,000 Protestants - despite Protestants making up the majority of the population.
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 the North claiming to have a disability.
Catholics make up a greater proportion of the population than they did in 1990. Among the young (aged 16 to 24) they are now the majority. The Protestant population is older, accounting for more than six in 10 people aged 60 or over.
Meanwhile, the British government is again being urged to honour its commitment to introduce an Irish language act.
Up to 5,000 people paraded from West Belfast to Writer’s Square in the city centre last week demanding that the British government introduce an Irish Language Act.
The march -- the second in support of an Irish Language Act -- saw students from many of the city’s Irish language schools and Irish language bodies take to the streets in support of their right to use the native language.
Commenting on unionist opposition to the Act, Janet Muller chief executive of the Irish language group Pobal said: “We have been saddened by some of the negative comments about the language and our community from a few unionist politicians in the past while. It is time they put their old fashioned attitudes aside”.
Unlike Scotland and Wales the North’s Irish speakers are afforded no legal protection and their rights as Irish speakers are not recognised.
During the political talks in Scotland last year, Sinn Féin secured the inclusion of an Irish Language Act in the final agreement that was agreed upon by both governments and the political parties.
But, as a belated concession to Ian Paisley, the British government refused to go ahead with the legislation.
Sinn Féin’s culture spokesperson Francie Brolly said: “The Irish language should be supported in legislation. People have campaigned to promote and support the language over many years. It is time the British government recognised the rights of Gaelgeoiri to speak their own language”.