Photo description: Two man working in the backup generator building in Saba

How many people work in the Caribbean Netherlands?

In 2020, the size of Bonaire’s working age population (all persons aged 15 to 74 years) was slightly under 16.5 thousand, of whom 69.8 percent were in employment. On St Eustatius, 71.0 percent of the working age population were in work and on Saba 73.4 percent of the 1.5 thousand.

Net labour participation, 2020 (% of population)
Island Net labour participation rate
Bonaire Total, Bonaire 69.8
Bonaire 15-24 yrs, Bonaire 42.7
Bonaire 25-44 yrs, Bonaire 86.0
Bonaire 45-74 yrs, Bonaire 64.6
St Eustatius Total, St Eustatius 71.0
St Eustatius 15-24 yrs, St Eustatius 31.9
St Eustatius 25-44 yrs, St Eustatius 87.4
St Eustatius 45-74 yrs, St Eustatius 68.7
Saba Total, Saba 73.4
Saba 15-24 yrs, Saba 41.7
Saba 25-44 yrs, Saba 87.0
Saba 45-74 yrs, Saba 69.8

On all three islands, labour force participation was relatively low among young people (15 to 24 years). The share in work on Bonaire was 42.7 percent, on St Eustatius 31.9 percent and on Saba 41.7 percent. Participation was highest among people aged 25 to 44 years. In the oldest age group, over 60 percent were in employment.

The majority of the working age population on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba were not born on these islands. Instead, they were born on Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten or in another country in Middle or South America. Fifteen percent of the workers on Bonaire were born in the European Netherlands.

Working age population (15 to 74 yrs) by country of birth, 2020 (% of population)
Other countries in Middle and South America Bonaire Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten Netherlands St Eustatius Asia Saba Europe (excl. the Netherlands) North America Africa and Oceania Unknown
Bonaire 25.3 31.8 23.2 13.6 0.0 3.1 0.0 1.7 0.9 0.3 0.1
St Eustatius 30.9 0.0 17.6 6.6 39.5 1.9 0.2 1.2 1.2 0.0 0.9
Saba 32.2 0.8 13.3 7.3 0.2 6.5 28.8 3.5 5.9 1.0 0.5

Low unemployment rate Saba

Bonaire’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in 2020. This is equivalent to almost 550 unemployed who were seeking work and available. St Eustatius’ unemployment rate was 2.3 percent, equivalent to 40 unemployed. At just over 3 percent, Saba’s unemployment rate was relatively low.

Unavailable or not looking for work

Bonaire has by far the largest working age population. Just over 4.4 thousand of them were not part of the local labour force: they were either not looking for work or not available. In most cases, they were neither of the two. A large group (33 percent) were unwilling or unable to work due to old age or retirement. For 20 percent of those outside the labour force – young residents in particular – education was the predominant reason why they were not looking or unavailable for work. Other, smaller, groups included people unable to work due to a disability or poor health (11 percent), or because they had to take care of their families (9 percent).

The overall picture on the other two islands is similar to the situation on Bonaire.

Population outside the labour force (15 to 74 yrs) on Bonaire, 2020
Not available or not seeking work .
Available but not seeking work 510
Seeking work but not available 100
Neither available nor seeking work .
Willing to work 250
Not willing/able to work due to .
Retirement or old age 1460
Education 890
Illness, disability, poor health 480
Care for family etc. 380
Other reason 340
70.2% of the Caribbean Netherlands' working age population were employed in 2020 Buitenvorm Binnenvorm

More information about labour force participation in the Caribbean Netherlands


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Explanation of symbols

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* provisional figure
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(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
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2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
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Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Statistics Netherlands (CBS)

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CBS in the Caribbean Netherlands

Statistics Netherlands opened an office on Bonaire in 2010. The Bonaire office is responsible for all statistics referring to the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands: Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, compiling statistics about prices, population, labour, income, the economy, tourism and trade.

Publications can be found in the dossier Caribbean Netherlands.


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