Jobs have been lost faster than they were created by Northern Ireland's economic agency, it has emerged.
The losses occurred despite hundreds of millions of pounds being invested by Invest Northern Ireland during its first three years in operation.
The agency spent more than £400m supporting economic projects between 2002 and 2005.
But despite this, companies backed by the government job agency lost almost 5,000 jobs.
The figures were detailed in a performance report covering the first three years after Invest Northern Ireland was created from a group of separate economic agencies.
Invest NI has blamed the losses on the decline of the textile industry and the closure of many manufacturing companies.
Invest NI's Chief Executive Leslie Morrison said: "The business of economic development is complex.
"Invest NI cannot take credit for all the positive consequences associated with our activities, just as we cannot take full responsibility for addressing all of the economic difficulties faced by Northern Ireland."
Mr Morrison said the report should, therefore, be "interpreted with care".
"There are clearly many factors which influence the performance of our clients, only one of which is assistance received from Invest NI," he said.
Peter Bunting of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said Invest NI was fighting to stand still in many cases.
"I am still deeply concerned about the haemorrhaging of jobs," he said.
"Over the next year, the congress would estimate that we would probably lose another 5,000 jobs.
"The difficulty is whether Invest Northern Ireland can keep pace with that and ensure that the number of good jobs created outweigh those that are being lost."
The report reveals that Invest NI offered assistance of just over £400m towards projects which plan to invest over £1.5bn within the Northern Ireland economy.
Over 8,800 offers were made to help individuals start a business.
The value of exports generated by Invest NI client companies increased, in real terms, by 12.5% to £4.2bn
Almost 70% of Invest NI's small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) clients introduced some degree of product or process innovation.
This compares with 39% of other Northern Ireland businesses, and 62% for a comparative GB sample of SMEs.