Norwegian Labour Market

Recent years have seen a strong growth in employment, giving rise to labour shortages and a tight labour market.

Even through the financial crisis, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has only increased from 2.4 % in the summer of 2008 to 3.6 % in November 2010, which is the lowest in the OECD area.

The labour force participation rate in 2012 was at 78.4 percent which is among the highest in the OECD area. The female employment rate of 73.8 percent is second only to Iceland and 17 points above the OECD total. Contrary to many other OECD countries, the employment and labour force participation rates of the 55-64-year olds, both male and female, have kept growing during the past decade.

However, Norway has one of the lowest average hours worked per year in Europe. This means that real participation is not as high. This is mainly due to a combination of low contractual hours, a high part-time rate and a high number of days lost due to sickness. Average hours actually worked per worker were 25 percent lower than the OECD average. Around 20 percent of the labour force works part time (although many part-time workers work close to full-time), this is 4 percentage points higher than the OECD average.