Where do most people work?
In 2021, the Dutch working population consisted of 9.8 million people. More than half of them worked in commercial services within sectors such as trade, transport, business services, recreation and culture. More than a quarter of the Dutch working population worked in public services, while around one sixth worked in goods production.
Most people worked in business services, trade, including wholesale trade and retail trade, and healthcare sectors. Those are also sectors where relatively many women work. By contrast, agriculture, manufacturing and construction counted far more men than women.
|Agriculture, forestry and fishing||135||67|
|Water companies and waste management||30||6|
|Mining and quarrying||7||1|
|Accommodation and food services||217||207|
|Culture, sports and recreation||155||260|
|Transportation and storage||310||96|
|Information and communication||243||85|
|Real estate activities||40||35|
|Health care and welfare||274||1251|
|Public administration and government services||283||223|
Shift towards a more services-based economy
In recent decades, employment in the goods production sector has declined in favour of that in services. Employment growth was particularly steep in business services and healthcare. The number of employed persons in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing declined.
While the share of goods production in total employment stood at nearly 40 percent in 1969, over half a century later it more than halved to 16 percent. During the same period, the share of commercial services increased from 41 to 56 percent. Furthermore, the share of employment in public service climbed from 20 percent in 1969 to about 28 percent in 2021.
The shift towards a more services-based Dutch economy is a process that has been happening gradually over the past decades. The share of goods-producing industries fell as production shifted to low-wage countries and as many activities were outsourced to the services sector. Moreover, high labour productivity growth, especially in agriculture and manufacturing, meant that fewer and fewer people were needed to meet demand. Increasing wealth is another factor adding to the shift towards a more services-based economy. Increasing wealth means more income for secondary needs, including most services.
|Commercial services||Public services||Goods production|
Relatively large services sector in the Netherlands
A shift towards a more services-based economy has also been observed in other countries. Compared to our neighbouring countries and some other European countries, the Netherlands has a relatively high share of services in total employment. The share of goods producers in employment is more substantial in Germany and Italy in particular. The same applies to the EU on average. Sweden has a relatively large public service sector.
|Goods production||Commercial services||Public services|
StatLine – Employment; economic activity, quarterly, National Accounts
Eurostat – Employment by industry breakdowns
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