Belfast is a bustling and vibrant city with a very good reputation for high standards of living. The 2003 Quality of Life survey voted Belfast to be the best city in which to live in the UK.
Its population is around 268,323, containing about 15% of Northern Irelands total. About 60% of Belfast's population are working age adults and the unemployment rate currently stands at around 7% (the same as the British national average). It is estimated, however, that between 2001 and 2016, around 51,000 jobs will have been created through new business, new bases for established companies, and expansion.
Although in the past, Belfast was renowned for industries such as linen weaving, heavy engineering, shipbuilding and tobacco production, the current job market mirrors the trends around the rest of Britain, with significant numbers of people working in service industries or skilled trades. The majority work for IT and software development companies, financial services including insurance and banking, construction, and health care, in both direct employment and through recruitment agencies. In fact, the single largest employment sector is Health and Social Care, employing over 30,000 staff in the city.
The average gross salary in Belfast is around £27,515 p.a. however there is a significant difference in pay rates between men and women doing comparable jobs.