The second aspect of SDG 8 looks at factors that help to give everybody who wants to work, the opportunity to do so, with safe and acceptable working conditions and with enough free time. Appropriate and meaningful work is important for people in terms of income, an active role in society and greater self-esteem. The first dashboard of SDG 8 (SDG 8.1) focused on sustainable and efficient economic growth, addressing innovation, business and the environment in this context.
Summary of results
- Trends in nine indicators for the period 2015-2022 point to improving well-being.
- The Netherlands has high positions in the EU rankings for most indicators. For only two is it trailing in the EU: relatively few weekly working hours and the large share of flex workers.
- The favourable trends for vacancy rate, unemployment and long-term unemployment, net labour participation and satisfaction with work are accompanied by high positions in the EU rankings.
- Work-related mental fatigue is the only indicator in the dashboard with an unfavourable trend.
Dashboard and indicators
The objective of SDG 8 is twofold. The first dashboard of SDG 8 centred on making economic growth more sustainable and efficient from the viewpoint of innovation, business and the environment. The second aspect of SDG 8 addresses decent work and safe and acceptable working conditions for everybody, and especially for the most vulnerable groups. People benefit in a number of ways from appropriate and meaningful work: they earn money, take an active part in society and gain greater self-esteem. For many people, finding and keeping a job are major challenges, and they will often have difficulty earning enough money to make ends meet. Favourable working conditions, relevant and interesting work, and a good work-life balance are all important factors in this respect. The amount of leisure time available to workers is also relevant; people need to relax, keep up their social contacts and devote time to personal development.
This dashboard presents a predominantly positive picture. Nine indicators show an improving trend in well-being over the medium term (2015-2022) and movement towards the SDG goals, and only one indicator shows an unfavourable trend (work-related mental fatigue). Dutch positions in the European rankings are also mostly high. Only for the relatively low number of hours worked and the high percentage of flex workers is the Netherlands straggling in the EU.
SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth: labour and leisure time
Resources and opportunities472nd3.5%6th0.7%1st11.4%16th
Resources and opportunities
Resources and opportunities concern options for participating in the labour market and the number of jobs available. The medium-term trends (2015-2022) in this part of the dashboard are all positive in terms of well-being. The high vacancy rate is good for jobseekers: at the end of 2022 there were 47 vacancies per thousand jobs, the highest level since 1997. The downsides to this high vacancy rate, however, are that worker shortages may lead to increased pressure for existing staff and that businesses may find it harder to grow. Strong demand for labour is pushing down unemployment: it fell to 3.5 percent of the labour force in 2022. Long-term unemployment is becoming less and less common: 0.7 percent of the Dutch labour force had been unemployed for one year or longer in 2022, down from 3.1 percent in 2015.
Unused labour potential amounted to 11.4 percent in 2022; this comprises people without paid employment, people in paid employment who have recently sought work and/or are available to start immediately (unemployed and semi-unemployed), and people in part-time paid employment who want to work more hours and are immediately available to do so (underutilised part-time workers). The figure is well down on the start of the trend period in 2015, when it was 20.8 percent of the total labour potential of 15- to 74-year-olds.
From an international perspective, too, the Netherlands is doing well. There are relatively many vacancies for jobseekers and unemployment remains relatively low. Dutch long-term unemployment is even the lowest of the EU.
Use concerns the employed labour force. In 2022, 72.2 percent of all 15- to 74-year-olds in the Netherlands were in employment (net labour participation). This is 5.5 percentage points up on the start of the trend period in 2015. The Netherlands has the highest net labour participation rate in the EU, and the trend is rising (green). Average weekly working hours amounted to 27.4 per worker in 2022, which is very low compared with other European countries. Material well-being could increase if people worked more hours. There is a positive (second-order) effect of this relatively short working week, though: workers have enough time and energy for things like care tasks, voluntary work or hobbies.
Outcomes relate to proceeds of work, working conditions and occupational safety. Corrected for purchasing power, the average hourly wage is high in the Netherlands compared with other EU countries. Employees on temporary employment contracts and those who work a flexible number of hours per week have lower income security. This may become a drawback for them when they face major life decisions such as whether to buy a home or have a baby. In 2022, nearly 34 percent of Dutch employees worked on a temporary or flexible basis. The medium-term trend for this indicator has shifted to decreasing (green). A large share of these flex workers in the labour force is viewed as unfavourable for the well-being of the employees concerned, and the Netherlands is at the very bottom of the EU rankings. Some degree of labour market flexibility is beneficial for businesses, but this second-order effect is not included in the perspective of this dashboard.
Unlike previous editions of the monitor, in this edition data from CBS and TNO sources on 1. work-related mental fatigue, 2. work-life balance 3. job satisfaction and 4. decision-making autonomy refer to all workers (employees, self-employed and freelancers, excl. family members working for self-employed relatives). In 2022, 18.8 percent of all Dutch workers suffered from work-related mental fatigue more than once a month. After peaking in 2018, the percentage fell slightly in 2019. In 2020 there was a relatively sharp fall, but in 2021 the share returned to the high level of 2018. The medium-term trend is upward and red.
Subjective assessment relates to whether people are satisfied with their working conditions, their jobs and the amount of free time they have, and whether they are worried about work and their financial situation. With increasing tension on the labour market, there is a downward trend in the percentage of employees worried about holding on to their jobs. The share of employees who feel that work and their private life are not in balance was 7.5 percent in 2022. In no other EU country is this group as small as in the Netherlands, where weekly working hours are among the shortest.
It is not possible to establish how people’s assessments were affected by working from home, less time spent on commuting, home schooling or cramped housing conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Data on employee satisfaction in 2022 are not directly comparable with data for previous years. The – rising – trend is based on results for 2021, and the figure for 2022 (78.5 percent) has not been included in the dashboard. Fewer concerns about job retention and the increasing trend for the scope for people to take decisions about their own work also both point to increasing well-being. Satisfaction with leisure time is also high: the Dutch are also among the leaders in Europe here, although the most recent data refer to 2018.