In 2018, the labour participation rate on the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands was higher than two years previously. On Bonaire, 70 percent of the population aged 15 to 74 years were in paid employment in 2016, versus 73 percent last year. The employment rate on St Eustatius increased from 66 to 72 percent; on Saba, from 62 to 66 percent. This is according to the most recent Labour Force Survey Caribbean Netherlands conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
The increase in Bonaire’s net labour participation rate between 2016 and 2018 was entirely attributable to part-time workers. On the other hand, the number of full-time employees decreased. The share of people in part-time jobs grew most significantly among working young people and over-65s. St Eustatius only recorded an increase in full-time workers, many of whom started a job in construction. Most islands residents work full-time, although this applies more to men than to women.
In 2018, Bonaire had 15.3 thousand inhabitants between the ages of 15 and 74. On St Eustatius and Saba, the working age population stood at 2.6 thousand and 1.8 thousand respectively. The latter island houses an American medical university, and because of this a relatively large part of its population are (foreign) students.
Mainly more young people finding jobs
Virtually all age groups saw an increase in labour participation between 2016 and 2018, but it was highest among young people aged 15 to 24 years in particular. This was the case on all three islands. Labour participation tends to be relatively low in this age group: many young people go to school or are in education and are therefore not available to the labour market.
The employment rate was highest among 25 to 44-year-olds: 89 percent on Bonaire, 86 percent on St Eustatius and 72 percent on Saba. On all three islands, 45 to 74-year-olds were much less likely to have a job. This is mainly due to the low participation rate among the over-65s, who are mostly retired. Of 65 to 74-year-olds, one-quarter were in paid employment on Bonaire and St Eustatius; one-third on Saba.
Lower educated more often find employment
More lower-educated residents were in paid work in 2018 than in 2016; their labour participation rate almost reached 70 percent on all three islands. Nevertheless, low-skilled residents of Bonaire and St Eustatius were less likely to be in employment than those with an intermediate or higher education level. On Saba, the labour participation rate was lowest (and virtually equal to 2016) among higher educated: 49 percent. The group of higher educated are often medical university students who are not (yet) active on the job market.
Employment among the higher educated was up on St Eustatius, but down instead on Bonaire. In part, this decline is caused by an increased share of 55 to 74-year-olds – who generally have a lower labour participation rate – among the higher educated. This resulted in a relatively higher employment rate among Bonaire residents with intermediate education levels in 2018, unlike in 2016.
Labour force on the Dutch Caribbean islands
Net labour participation rate
The share of the employed labour force in the overall population (both included and not included in the labour force). Data are generally presented for the population