According to the latest figures from the Caribbean Netherlands Labour Force Survey, released today by Statistics Netherlands, the labour force in the Caribbean differs from that in the Netherlands in a number of respects: relatively more people in the Caribbean (15-74 years) are employed, and relatively more of them work full-time.
More people in work
The labour force on Bonaire (inhabitants aged 15 to 74 years) numbered nearly 14.5 thousand in 2014; on St Eustatius it was 3.3 thousand and on Saba 1.5 thousand. On Bonaire and St Eustatius 68.9 and 67.8 percent of 15 to74-year-olds have a job, on Saba this is 59.3 percent. Saba is among the Dutch municipalities with the lowest labour participation rates.
Island participation rates are higher for men than for women. On Bonaire and St Eustatius over 70 percent of men work, compared with around 65 percent of women. On Saba there is no difference between the sexes: around 60 percent of both men and women are employed. Nearly 80 percent of the employed labour force on Saba work full-time, on Bonaire and St Eustatius this is nearly 90 percent. This is very different from the Netherlands, where only half of employed people have a full-time job. In the Caribbean Netherlands most men as well as women work full-time.
Government, construction and care sectors are the main employers on all three islands. On Bonaire, the hotel and restaurant sector is also a main job provider. As a result of the NuStar storage terminal, manufacturing has also become a significant sector on St Eustatius. On Saba a large number of people work in education, among other things at the medical university located there.
Most native islanders have low education levels
Two out of three inhabitants of the Caribbean Netherlands were not born on one of the three islands. Around 20 percent of people living on Bonaire were born on one of the other islands of the Netherlands Antilles (including Curacao, St Maarten and Aruba), and nearly 10 percent were born in the Netherlands. Forty to fifty percent of the population of St Eustatius and Saba were born elsewhere, mainly in United States, Canada or the Dominican Republic.
Most foreigners in the Caribbean work in specific sectors of the labour market. Dutch people on St Eustatius work mainly in education and government. This is also true for Dutch people on Bonaire, although many of them also work in hotels and restaurants there. On Saba, too, many hotels and restaurants employ Dutch people, although many others work in education and for the government. A large number of them have secondary and higher levels of education. Workers born on the islands themselves often have lower levels of education.
Many islanders not looking for work
On Bonaire, 6.4 percent of the labour force were unemployed in 2014. This is the equivalent of around 700 unemployed persons. On St Eustatius unemployment was 8.8 percent. Unemployment is especially high among young people on this island. Saba had the lowest unemployment rate: 2.5 percent.
Relatively many people living on the islands do not have a job and are not looking for one or available to start work. This group is especially large on Saba: 35 out of every hundred Saba inhabitants are not looking for or available or a job. This is one of the effects of the relatively large group of medical students living on the island.
In general terms, more people on the islands than in the Netherlands do not have a job because they are in education. These are all young people who, unlike their peers in the Netherlands, do not work alongside their studies. On the other hand, fewer retired people do not have a job. The share of people who do not work because they care for household and family is relatively small. Just as in the Netherlands, most of these are women. Relatively few people in the Caribbean Netherlands are unwilling or unable to work because of illness or disability.