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How many people work in the Caribbean Netherlands?

In 2022, the size of Bonaire’s working-age population (all persons aged 15 to 74 years) was slightly over 17.7 thousand, of whom 72.5 percent were in employment. On St Eustatius, 72.9 percent of the 2.5 thousand strong working age population were in work, on Saba 67.0 percent of 1.5 thousand.

Net labour participation, 2022 (%)
Island Age Net labour participation rate
Bonaire Total, Bonaire 72.5
Bonaire 15 to 24 yrs, Bonaire 49.5
Bonaire 25 to 44 yrs, Bonaire 90.6
Bonaire 45 to 74 yrs, Bonaire 64.5
St Eustatius Total, St Eustatius 72.9
St Eustatius 15 to 24 yrs, St Eustatius 30.2
St Eustatius 25 to 44 yrs, St Eustatius 88.4
St Eustatius 45 to 74 yrs, St Eustatius 73.2
Saba Total, Saba 67.0
Saba 15 to 24 yrs, Saba 18.4
Saba 25 to 44 yrs, Saba 80.1
Saba 45 to 74 yrs, Saba 66.7

On all three islands, labour force participation was relatively low among young people (15 to 24 years). Especially so on Saba, because of its relatively large population of medical students. Less than one out of five in this age group were working. On Bonaire, almost half of the young population were in employment, on St Eustatius slightly more than 30 percent. Participation was highest among people aged 25 to 44 years. In the senior age group (45 to 74 years), over 60 percent were in employment.

72.9% of St Eustatius’ working-age population were employed in 2022

Caribbean Netherlands: 1 out of 6 work in construction

On all three islands, public administration and services, construction and education rank among the top 5 of economic activities with the largest shares of workers. On both St Eustatius and Saba, public administration and services was the economic activity with the largest share of the working population. On Bonaire, construction has the largest share of workers, followed by accommodation and food services.

Unemployment on the islands was relatively low in 2022, with rates ranging from 3.9 percent on St Eustatius to 2.5 percent on Saba. Bonaire had a 3.0-percent unemployment rate, equivalent to 390 unemployed.

Working population (15 to 74 yrs) by economic activity, 2022 (% of working-age population)
Construction Accommodation and food services Public administration and services Education Health and social work activities Wholesale and retail trade Manufacturing Renting and other business support Transportation and storage Culture, sports and recreation Other
Bonaire 16.9 13.7 10.7 10.9 9.2 8.6 5.5 5.4 4.4 2.8 12.1
St Eustatius 13.6 8.8 16.2 11.5 7.3 8.3 12.8 6.4 5.1 1.7 8.3
Saba 10.7 6.8 28.7 18.5 8.8 7.0 5.4 1.2 2.9 1.3 8.6

Bonaire: More than 7 out of 10 in working-age population are working

Bonaire has by far the largest working-age population: 17.7 thousand. Just under 4.5 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 (39 percent) were unwilling or unable to work due to old age or retirement. For 18 percent of those outside the labour force – young residents in particular – education was the predominant reason why they were not looking for work or unavailable. Other, smaller, groups included people unable to work due to a disability or poor health (15 percent), or because they had to take care of their families (8 percent).

The overall picture on the other two islands is similar to the situation on Bonaire, with the following exception: on Saba, 4 in 10 were not looking for work or unavailable because of education.

Population Bonaire (15 to 74 yrs) outside the labour force, 2022
Not available or
not seeking work
Available but
not seeking work
Seeking work but
not available
Neither available
nor seeking work
Willing to work 250
Not willing/able
to work due to:
Care 350
Education 810
Retirement/old age 1750
Illness, disability,
poor health
Other reason 340

More information about labour force participation in the Caribbean Netherlands


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CBS in the Caribbean Netherlands

CBS 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. Topics include prices, population, labour, income, the economy, tourism and trade.

Publications can be found in the dossier Caribbean Netherlands.


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