Back to Top

 Skip navigation

Industry and Occupation, Social Class and SEG

Open in Excel:

Census results summary 2 revealed there was an increase of 199,281 workers in 2016 compared with 2011. Figure 2.1 shows those industries with the largest increases and decreases over the five years. Using the NACE REV2 classification workers are classified into 153 different industries - the full table is available in the StatBank link below - see Appendix 3 for more details. 

IT activities (computer programming, consultancy and related services) showed the largest increase rising by almost 56 per cent (21,262 persons) to reach 59,376 in 2016. This was followed by residential care and social work activities which showed a 24 per cent rise from almost 82,900 to nearly 102,700. The largest decreases were in financial service activities (except insurance and pension funding), down from 54,027 to 46,674 in 2016 and in Public Administration, down nearly 5,000 to 83,687. The large increase in persons working in restaurant and food services (up over 10,000) contrasts with a decline in persons working in the retail sale of food and beverages (down over 3,000).

StatBank Link EB031

Computer programming, consultancy and information service
Residential care and social work activities 10265382878
Restaurants and mobile food service activities 4503034978
Construction of buildings 4229933544
Medical and dental instruments and supplies 2766920664
Retail sale in non-specialised stores with food, beverages or
tobacco predominating
Farming of animals mixed farming 7363077678
Taxi operation 1008314804
Public administration compulsory social security activities 8368788439
Financial service activities, except insurance and pension funding 4667454027
Table 2.1 Top 10 industries by growth in numbers at work, 2011 - 2016

Most common occupations in 2016

As reported above the number of people at work increased by 11.0 per cent (199,281) between 2011 and 2016, rising from 1,807,360 to 2,006,641.

Using the SOC2010 classification (4 digit - see Appendix 4 for more details), Table 2.2 lists the most common occupations among the work force in 2016. Workers are classified to 328 separate categories and the full list is available in the statbank link below. The category sales and retail assistants, cashiers and checkout operators was the top occupational group with 90,746 persons. Although the largest in numbers, these workers still only represented 4.5 per cent of those at work which indicated the diversity among the different professions in modern Ireland.

'Farmers' was the next largest occupation group accounting for 3.5 per cent of the work force with 69,375 workers, followed by the category other administrative occupations with 59,392 workers. This group includes administrative assistants, clerks and office administrators, and represented 3.0 per cent of the work force.

StatBank Link EB065

Table 2.2 Number of persons and percentage of workforce in top occupations, 2016

Sales & retail assistants, cashiers & checkout operators9074688350
Other administrative occupations n.e.c.5939247465
Nurses & midwives5391054755
Care workers & home carers4460538744
Primary & nursery education teaching professionals4165438793
Managers & directors in retail & wholesale3337331137
Chartered & certified accountants & taxation experts3268228121
Secondary education teaching professionals3026330848
Cleaners & domestics2915027647
Kitchen & catering assistants2686121261
Personal assistants & other secretaries2586826130
Hairdressers, barbers, beauticians & related occupations2569721169
Sales accounts & business development managers2534720178
National government administrative occupations2345123924
Book-keepers, payroll managers & wages clerks2186320100
Large goods vehicle drivers2046619758
Programmers & software development
Business sales executives1966619996

Occupations recording largest increase

The occupational group, other administrative occupations, was not only the third largest occupation group in 2016, it also recorded the largest growth (25.1%) between 2011 and 2016, rising from 47,465 to 59,392 workers over the five years.

This was followed by programmers and software development professionals, growing 51.9 per cent since 2011 to reach 20,113 workers in 2016. The number of professionals in the category chemical and related process operatives grew by 6,714 workers, from 10,057 in 2011 to 16,771 in 2016.

Care workers and home carers grew by 5,861 workers between 2011 and 2016, with 44,605 persons in this occupation group in 2016.

Table 2.3 Top 10 occupations by growth in number in employment, 2011-2016

At work 2016At work 2011Change
Other administrative occupations n.e.c.593924746511927
Programmers and software development professionals20113132406873
Chemical and related process operatives16771100576714
Care workers and home carers44605387445861
Kitchen and catering assistants26861212615600
Sales accounts and business development managers25347201785169
Elementary construction occupations18250132475003
Nursing auxiliaries and assistants16722120954627
Chartered and certified accountants and taxation experts32682281214561

Occupations recording largest decline

Functional managers and directors (not elsewhere classified) showed the biggest fall, followed by bank and post office clerks which fell by 19 per cent (4,159 persons) between 2011 and 2016.

The number of farmers at work declined of 5.2 per cent from 73,146 in 2011 to 69,375 in 2016. The only other occupation to record a fall greater than 3,000 over the inter-censal period was assemblers (vehicles and metal goods), falling by 3,171 to 4,754 workers in 2016.

Table 2.4 Top 10 occupations by decline in employment, 2011-2016

At work 2016At work 2011Change
Functional managers and directors n.e.c.257519364-16789
Bank and post office clerks1780721966-4159
Assemblers (vehicles and metal goods)47547925-3171
Taxi and cab drivers and chauffeurs1382416504-2680
Local government administrative occupations1552218123-2601
Shopkeepers and proprietors – wholesale and retail843210410-1978
Financial and accounting technicians17962963-1167
Police officers (sergeant and below)1196913039-1070
Telecommunications engineers41935196-1003

Social class and unemployment

The entire population is classified into one of seven social class groups, ranked on the basis of occupation. In April 2016 there continued to be significant variation in unemployment rates across social classes. All social classes saw a reduction in the unemployment rate, with the largest reduction seen in skilled manual workers, whose rate halved from 26.9 per cent in 2011 to 13.4 per cent in 2016. These workers are likely to have worked in jobs related to the construction sector. One fifth of unskilled workers were unemployed, down from almost a third in 2011. For professional workers, the unemployment rate was 3.3 per cent, down from 6 per cent in 2011.

Professional workers5.992432268805813.25744667083666
Managerial and technical7.503066626837594.67401931614635
Skilled manual26.925343094314413.3662324100819
Other 60.300497699314548.7006527946133

Social class and youth unemployment

Overall youth unemployment, in those aged 15-24, was almost twice the national average at 25.6 per cent. However, again this varied by social class with the rate for professional workers at 8.8 per cent, down from 15.9 in 2011.

In the largest category, non-manual workers, 5,426 young people were out of work, with an unemployment rate of 12.8 per cent, down from 21.7 per cent in 2011. But the highest rate of unemployment was in the unskilled category at 21.2 per cent.

15 - 24 years25 - 34 years35 - 44 years45 - 54 years55 - 64 years65 years and over
Professional workers8.760509899647413.323797035800852.659185581909383.142820281254033.836563279233560.861244019138756
Managerial and technical12.94444038840624.331870275542553.661485651649264.352095899437386.263277991974191.80472530600626
Skilled manual14.818021137683512.433948021136611.237429850036713.906810920171218.37397508252585.79976140222079
Other 64.283255696551148.185073771665945.461160310220644.776582293580242.89637952559324.8918685121107

Social class and labour force participation

Labour force participation also varied by social class and was highest for semi-skilled workers at 70.2 per cent, followed closely by professional workers (70.1%), whereas the participation rate for unskilled workers was 59.6 per cent.

Participation rate
Professional workers70.0596133068385
Managerial and technical66.7846823135494
Skilled manual64.6758410341134
Other 35.2624837403223

It's a Fact

  • 19.7% the labour force participation rate for managerial and technical workers aged 15-24
  • 17,248 the number of managerial and technical workers aged 65 and over who were at work
  • 23.3% the labour force participation rate for professional workers aged 65 and over

Social-economic group and unemployment

Socio-economic group classifies the population into one of ten categories based on the skill and educational attainment of their current or former occupation. In 2016, higher professionals were the socio-economic group with the lowest unemployment rate (3.3%), followed closely by farmers (3.5%), reversing their positions from 2011. Lower professionals had a 4.3 per cent unemployment rate, whereas among skilled manual workers the rate was 15.9 per cent, with unskilled workers having a 21.2 per cent rate.

UnemployedAt Work
Employers and managers17979308294
Higher professional5792168823
Lower professional13977313740
Manual skilled29644156293
Own account workers836397283
Agricultural workers175111577
All others gainfully occupied
and unknown

Men and women

There was little difference in the unemployment rates of men and women in the SEG groups of ‘Employers and Managers’ and ‘Higher professionals’. However, a number of categories showed pronounced variances. Just over fifteen per cent (15.5%) of male manual skilled workers were unemployed, compared with 24.9 per cent of women. The opposite is true for unskilled workers, where a quarter of the men were unemployed, compared with 15 per cent of the women. Eight in ten unemployed farmers were male with a 3.1 per cent unemployment rate while the unemployment rate of the remaining one fifth of farmers who were female was 7.4 per cent.

Male Unemployment rateFemale Unemployment rate
Employers and managers5.523176699547615.50705632095396
Higher professional3.291303004557043.3594609073223
Lower professional5.726692792139553.39415256100242
Manual skilled15.484955913098824.9
Own account workers8.358401375161156.22199871994148
Agricultural workers12.913.9
All others gainfully occupied and unknown47.750.5