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NI Business Demography Statistics 2022

NI Business Demography Statistics 2022

The latest Northern Ireland Business Demography statistics were released last month by NISRA.  The bulletin, including interactive charts, can be accessed on the on the NISRA website.

The data are sourced from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), which is a register of all Value Added Tax (VAT) and/or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) registered businesses in the UK.  The IDBR covers most of the economy including the Agriculture, Production, Construction and Service sectors.  It does not hold details on those small businesses that fall below the VAT threshold (£85,000 in 2022) or do not operate a PAYE scheme.

The demography statistics detailed in this output are based on businesses registered in Northern Ireland only and exclude Agriculture and the public sector.  This is in line with the UK demography statistics produced by the ONS and allows for international comparisons.  The number of businesses with an active VAT and/or PAYE registration in Northern Ireland throughout 2022 was just under 65,000.  These registrations accounted for just over 2% of the total active, registered UK business population, estimated to be 2.9 million for the same period.

Business demography statistics measure changes in these registrations over the calendar year.  New business registrations are referred to as births and business de-registrations are referred to as deaths.  A business birth does not necessarily equate to a new business and a business death does not necessarily equate to a business closing.

The ONS produces the UK Business Demography report.  The most recent data was published on 22 November 2023.

Key points

Key points from the Northern Ireland Business Demography bulletin are listed below.

There were 5,385 business births in Northern Ireland during 2022, a decrease of 19.1% on the previous year.

  • The business birth rate (number of births as a proportion of active businesses) in Northern Ireland was 8.3% in 2022, a decrease of 2.0 percentage points (pps) over the year, and is at the lowest level since 2014.
  • Scotland was the only one of the four UK regions to see an increase in the birth rate over the year.  It saw a small rise of 0.1 pps to 10.8%.  The business birth rate declined sharply in Wales (1.6 pps), with England also showing a decline of just under 1 pps (0.9 pps).  The birth rate in England in 2022 was 11.6%, the lowest it has been since 2012.

There were 5,290 business deaths in Northern Ireland in 2022, an increase of 4.3% on the previous year.

  • In the UK, the business death rate (11.8%) was higher than the business birth rate (11.5%), which is the first time this has happened since 2010.
  • Northern Ireland’s business death rate in 2022 (8.2%) remained lower than the other three regions.  Scotland and Wales saw their highest business death rates since the series began in 2005.  Death rates in England are at their highest since 2009, with Northern Ireland at their highest since 2013.

The number of business births was greater than the number of deaths for seven district council areas.

  • Birth rates decreased for all eleven district councils in Northern Ireland in the year to December 2022.  Belfast had the highest business birth rate (9.2%), whilst Mid Ulster had the lowest (6.8%).
  • Death rates increased across eight district council areas over the same twelve month period.  Antrim and Newtownabbey, Belfast, and Lisburn and Castlereagh saw a decline in the death rate.  Mid Ulster had the lowest death rate (6.3%) across the region for the eighth consecutive year.  It is likely that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still contributed towards higher business death rates in 2022.

Business birth and death rates are highest for the Transport and storage industry and lowest in Health.

  • Business birth rates have increased for all but four broad industry groups.
  • Transport and storage (including postal) saw the largest decline in the number of business births, down by 480 businesses compared with 2021, amounting to a decrease of 10.2 pps in the birth rate.  This industry had witnessed significant increases in the number of businesses since 2019, which coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for home delivery services.
  • Construction had the highest number of business deaths in 2022 (970), which is the highest number observed since 2013. This amounted to an increase of 1.8 pps in the death rate.

Upcoming Releases

Economic and Labour Market Statistics Branch will release the following publications in February 2024.

  • Northern Ireland Labour Market Report.

A separate briefing will be issued, on the day of publication, for this release.

Notes to editors:

  1. Business births and deaths data are subject to revision, therefore, figures presented in this publication may not match those published in previous reports in this series.
  2. The Northern Ireland (NI) business demography statistics are produced from the NI element of the Inter-Departmental Business (IDBR).  The data include only those businesses registered in NI and exclude those operating in NI, but have their registered or main address elsewhere in the UK. Public sector organisations and the agricultural sector are also excluded.
  3. The starting point for business demography is the concept of a population of active businesses in a given year. These are defined as businesses that were registered on the IDBR by having a VAT and/or PAYE at any time during the reference year. Demography statistics measure changes in these registrations over the calendar year.  New business registrations are referred to as births and business de-registrations are referred to as deaths.  A business birth does not necessarily equate to a new business starting and a business death does not necessarily equate to a business closing.
  4. The full Northern Ireland Business Demography report is available on the NISRA website.
  5. The number of businesses operating in NI by industry, location, employee and turnover size bands, legal status, and foreign-ownership is available on the NISRA website.
  6. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Neil Mulhern,

Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS) or Tel: 028 90255196.

7. Follow NISRA on Twitter – @NISRA

8. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at

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

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