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Monday, 18 July 2011

Employment figures in The Netherlands from 2000 – 2010: Healthcare is today’s growth industry. Virtually no growth in commercial jobs. Government and public services grow again.

The Central Bureau for Statistics in The Netherlands ( presented its employment figures over the last decade.
These data are a goldmine, because they give a lot of information on the development of employment in this country.
Here are the pertinent snips of this employment report, followed by my commentary and  some additional information I filtered from the CBS source data. All data in this article are courtesy of the CBS. All charts in this article are either courtesy of CBS, or based on CBS data. Some chart texts have been altered to translate them to English.
Employment in the care industry grows spectacularly
In the last ten years, the number of jobs in the care-industry soared by 385,000. The total number of jobs grew by 515,000. 75% of job growth in the last decade is provided by the care industry.
Job-growth 2000-2010
Mutation compared to year earlier x1000
Limited growth commercial sector  
At the government and public services, the number of jobs grew by 101,000 (10%) between 2000-2010. These were especially jobs in education. 
 The commercial sector accounts for three-quarters of all jobs, but in this sector the employment grew only by 30,000 jobs (0.4%) between 2000-2010. The recession in 2002/2003 and the economic crisis of 2008/2009 abolished almost all job growth from the other years in the commercial sector. The employment in the care industry is less sensitive for the tendency of the market and grew by 38% over the last ten years.The care industry includes healthcare (543,000 jobs)  and care-taking & well-being (846,000 jobs).  
Number of jobs in the ten largest industries

Number of jobs in the
ten largest industries x 1000.
Trade is the biggest industry
The trade is the biggest industry with 1.5 mln jobs. Healthcare is second with 1.4 mln jobs, while the manufacturing industry is third. The share of the manufacturing industry, but also agriculture and the building and construction industry, diminished strongly during the last decades.  Forty years ago, the manufacturing industry was number one and healthcare fifth. Trade is the largest industry, since 1989.
Total number of worked hours, 1970-2010
Worked hours in The Netherlands
in billions of hours
 Half a million jobs for women added 
Job growth over the last decade is totally accounted for by women. While the number of jobs for men only grew by 12,000, the number of women’s jobs grew by 504,000. This is strongly related to the employment growth in the care industry. A quarter of all women works in the care-industry. In this industry 80% of jobs is for women.Nowadays, almost 50% of all jobs is occupied by women. However, women work parttime more often. Therefore the share of women in the total number of worked hours is only 37%. Last year, men worked in average 1621 hours and women 1107 hours.
These employment figures are really not good news: the number of Dutch commercial (non-government / non-healthcare) jobs grew by only 130,000 over the last ten years, while the Dutch population grew by 700,000 people over the same period. This means that The Netherlands could have been much more competitive, than it is in reality.

Worrisome is the fact that the number of jobs for men grew by only 12,000, while the number of men presumably grew by about 350,000. This development must have as a consequence, that more men have become unemployed over the last ten years. This is bad, as most men still are wage-earners, because their partners work more often in parttime or stay at home to care for the children.

The rising employment in the care industry (healthcare and well-being), although it doesn’t come as a big surprise, is also bad news:
The aging of the Dutch population (see also my article: New pension agreement in The Netherlands) caused a shift in the demography in The Netherlands from younger to older. This aging is a consequence of people dying at older age, in combination with lower birth figures over the last 40 years.

The phenomena of aging is causing soaring healthcare and healthcare-related costs. Also of strong influence on healthcare costs is the phenomena that people in the western world have gotten more and more obese over the last 20 years. The Netherlands is unfortunately no exception here. And people with obesity are large users of healthcare, due to all kinds of physical and mental health problems.

Although a good care industry is of course indispensable in a modern society, it is not a productive industry, as it doesn’t add (much) to the Gross Domestic Product of a country.

The quickest way to solve the problem of the aging population in The Netherlands, is to get more youngsters from outside the country. Therefore the immigration of young people from outside Western Europe, although currently denounced by the populist parties, could be a blessing in disguise.

Not only are the current immigrants from Eastern Europe in general well-educated, also the 2nd and especially 3rd generation of immigrants from outside Europe will be much better educated, than the current generation.  Therefore they will probably add strongly to the Gross Domestic Product of The Netherlands.

Important is, however, that these new workers find commercial jobs, instead of government and care-industry jobs, that are not productive. The prospects for this are good, as immigrants (especially non-western) are above average in starting new businesses. Therefore they are a large driver for jobs in the retail industry.

But there is more to find in the data of the CBS.

I made a table of the biggest employment changes  per industry for men and women.

Men - Biggest changes in Employment per Industry
What you see in this chart (data courtesy of is the spectacular drop of employment in the Building & Construction industry. For the regular readers of my blog, this can’t come as a surprise (see my article Dark clouds ahead for CRE + RRE…) and I’m afraid that the big shakeout isn’t over yet.

Although also more men are employed in the care-industry, their number is still limited. Not as spectacular as the employment drop in the Building&Construction, but still, is the drop of employment in the manufacturing industry. Here, it is visible what the move of the manufacturing industry to the low-wage countries meant for employment in The Netherlands.
Women - Biggest changes in Employment per Industry
In this chart for women, the spectular growth in the care-industry is visible: both as a percentage as in sheer numbers.

There has also been a steady growth of the number of women in the education industry. This becomes even more visible with the next chart.
Employment in Education
Where the number of men in the education industry remained fairly stable over the last 40 years, the number of women in this industry almost tripled. There is substantial consensus under academics that this development, together with the feminisation of the educational methods (i.e. making the education methods more suitable for girls than boys), is responsible for the worsening school results of boys on primary school, secondary schools and the universities and colleges.

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