Caribbean Netherlands’ unused labour potential at 3.4 thousand people

Two construction workers paving a road on Bonaire
© Michele Groen van MG Fotografie
In 2020, there were 2.8 thousand people aged 15 to 74 years on Bonaire who belonged to the so-called unused labour potential. On St Eustatius, the unused labour potential comprised 290 people and on Saba 330. This is evident from the Labour Force Survey Caribbean Netherlands (LFS-CN) 2020, conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

The unused labour potential consists of the unemployed, semi-unemployed and underemployed part-time workers. The unemployed do not have a paid job, have looked for work recently and are immediately available. Semi-unemployed people do not have a paid job but have either not looked for work recently or are not immediately available. Together, the unemployed and semi-unemployed constitute the unemployed labour potential. The underemployed part-time workers, who want to work more hours and are immediately available, form the unused labour potential in employment.

Last year, Saba had the largest share of unused labour potential (22 percent) of all three islands, relative to the population aged 15 to 74 years; shares were lower on Bonaire and St Eustatius. The underemployed part-time workers account for a significant share of the untapped labour potential. On Saba, this share stood at 66 percent, while on Bonaire it was just under 60 percent and on St Eustatius almost half.

Unused labour potential in population aged 15 to 74 yrs, 2020
 Unemployed (%)Semi-unemployed (%)Underemployed part-timers (%)
St Eustatius1.64.75.8

Relatively young unused labour potential

The unused labour potential on all three islands concerns relatively young people, especially the unemployed. On Saba, for example, 50 percent of the unemployed labour potential were 15 to 24 years old, while this age group constitutes 13 percent of the population aged 15 to 74 years. On St Eustatius, this group also accounts for 13 percent of the population. On this island, 22 percent of the unused labour potential consists of 15 to 24-year-olds. The smallest relative share of young people in the unused labour potential is seen on Bonaire.

Unused labour potential by age, 2020
 15 to 24 yrs (%)25 to 44 yrs (%)45 to 74 yrs (%)
Total population12.43750.5
Underemployed part-timers17.340.842.0
St Eustatius 1)
Total population13.037.649.5
Unused labour potential21.550.627.9
Total population12.541.645.9
Underemployed part-timers49.923.426.6
1)For St Eustatius, there are too few observations to subdivide into (semi-)unemployed and underemployed part-timers.

Unused labour potential relatively lower educated

People in the untapped labour potential are relatively likely to have a low education level. On Bonaire, this was particularly the case among the unused labour potential in employment (i.e. the underemployed part-timers): 57 percent were lower educated, versus 50 percent of the total population aged 15 to 74 years. On Saba, however, it was the unemployed group who were relatively often low-skilled: 46 percent, against 40 percent of the total population.

People in the unused labour potential on Bonaire and St Eustatius were more likely to have a diploma in general education compared to all 15 to 74-year-olds on these islands. The underemployed part-timers on Bonaire were also relatively likely to hold qualifications in design, languages, art and history or in engineering, manufacturing and construction. The unemployed labour potential on Bonaire and Saba had relatively often graduated in service education.

Unused labour potential by education level, 2020
 Low education level (%)Intermediate education level (%)High education level (%)Unknown (%)
Total population50.43116.42.2
Underemployed part-timers52.932.210.64.3
St Eustatius
Total population67.619.711.80.9
Unused labour potential76.317.36.40
Total population39.827.530.52.3
Underemployed part-timers45.628.223.23.0

Untapped labour potential relatively often not born in the Caribbean Netherlands

People in the unused labour potential on the three islands were relatively often not locally born. Compared to all 15 to 74-year-olds, they were more likely to be born in other areas of South and Central America in particular. On Saba, a relatively large part of the unemployed labour potential were born on Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten.

Unused labour potential by country of birth, 2020
 Bonaire (%)Saba (%)St Eustatius (%)Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten (%)Other Central and South America (%)Netherlands (%)North America (%)Other (%)Unknown (%)
Total population33.70023.423.813.61.540.1
Underemployed part-timers30.70021.634.710030
St Eustatius 1)
Total population00.241.617.528.262.531.1
Unused labour potential0035.825.631.31.23.802.3
Total population0.828.40.215.827.86.39.510.50.8
Underemployed part-timers2.316.5032.232.306.310.40
1)For St Eustatius, there are too few observations to subdivide into (semi-)unemployed and underemployed part-timers.