Labour and income

Figures - Labour

In 2016, the number of jobs in the Netherlands amounted to 10 million. This included 7.9 million employee and 2.1 million self-employed jobs. In comparison with 1970, the number of jobs has increased by 68 percent. The share of self-employed jobs has risen from 18 percent to 21 percent since 2003. It was even higher in the 1980s, namely 23 percent.

The combined sectors education, care and public administration contribute significantly to employment. Over one-quarter of all jobs are found in one of these sectors. The number of jobs is also significant in trade, transportation, hotels and restaurants, as well as in business services. The majority of self-employed people work in business services. On the other hand, agriculture and fisheries have the highest share of self-employed jobs: six out of ten jobs in this sector are held by self-employed.

In 2016, nearly 50 percent of all employee jobs were held by women. This was 27 percent in 1970. The number of employee jobs for women has quadrupled since then. For men, it has increased by 22 percent. More than three-quarters of all employee jobs held by women are part-time jobs. The share of part-time jobs among men lags far behind but is still significant at 33 percent.

In 2016, 66 percent of the Dutch population aged 15 to 74 (the labour force) were in employment. Nine out of ten persons were working 12 or more hours per week. Young people in the age category 15 to 18 years usually have small jobs of less than 12 hours per week. Over the age of 60, considerably fewer people are in employment.

In 2016, 6 percent in the Dutch labour force were unemployed. An unemployed person is defined as someone who does not have a job but is looking and immediately available for work. Unemployment is highest among young people aged 15 to 24 with nearly 11 percent out of work. The unemployment rate is also relatively high among older people in the age category 55 to 64: over 7 percent.

The total number of unemployed in 2016 was more than one and a half times higher than in 2008, namely 538 thousand. The increase was particularly sharp in long-term unemployment (one year or longer). The number of unemployed has declined since 2014. Although the number of long-term unemployed fell by 43 thousand in 2016, this group was still more than twice as large as in 2008 (216 thousand against 95 thousand).

Around mid-year 2008, the number of job vacancies and the number of unemployed had balanced out: labour market tension was high. Then, the financial crisis caused the number of job vacancies to plummet while unemployment went up. By the end of 2013, the number of unemployed had eventually become over seven times higher than the number of job vacancies. The ratio of unemployed people against job vacancies has fallen back since then. At the end of 2016, there were on average 2.9 unemployed persons per unfilled vacancy.

In Q4 2013, the number of unfilled vacancies was at a low, but it has risen since then. Most unfilled vacancies are seen in the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland: 33 thousand, while Zeeland has the lowest number. Compared to 2013, relative growth is highest in Overijssel (+87 percent) and lowest in Drenthe (+68 percent). Relative to the size of the labour force, Utrecht has the highest number of unfilled job vacancies and Friesland the fewest in 2013 as well as in 2016.

In both 2015 and 2016, CAO (Collective Labour Agreement) wages increased more sharply than consumer prices. In the four preceding years, however, the wage increase fell behind consumer price developments due to the economic crisis. Wages increased by 1.8 percent in 2016. Only in 1987 and 2009 during the past thirty years, the increase in CAO wages was far above consumer price developments similar to 2016.


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Explanation of symbols

empty cell Not applicable
. Data not available
* Provisional figure
** Revised provisional figure (but not definite)
2016-2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 Average for 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/’17 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2014/’15-2016/’17 Crop year, financial year, etc., 2014/’15 to 2016/’17 inclusive

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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