Labour Markets

The Norwegian Labour Market

Thematic overview of the latest trends and developments, covering 11 different themes.

This tracker covers the latest trends and developments on topics such as job creation, working-time, productivity, wages, trade unions and employer organisations. It includes data from national and international sources such as Statistics Norway, Eurostat and the OECD, and provides international comparisons where data is avaliable. The Github repository for the tracker is available here. The tracker is also available in Norwegian here.

The newest section presents the latest forecasts for the Norwegian labour market until 2026 from 13 different institutions. In total the tracker includes over 100+ visualizations.

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According to the latest preliminary figures from Statistics Norway, the total number of jobs in the Norwegian economy stood at 3.05M in April 2023. After fairly steady growth during 2022, the first months of 2023 have seen the number of jobs hover around 3.05M.

Accommodation and food services industry rebounds from pandemic losses

Over the past 12 months, all industries apart from administrative and support services have seen a positive job growth. The largest gains were in mining and quarrying (5.1%), followed by real estate, professional, scientific and technical activities, and accommodation and food service activities. As for the total number of jobs, the health services industry tops the list, followed by wholesale and retail trade, education, and construction.

Positive job growth in all counties

The number of jobs increased in all counties from the Q1 of 2022 to the Q1 of 2023. The biggest increase was in Oslo, followed by Vestland and Trøndelag.

At the municipality level the marjority saw positive job growth over the past year, with Bardu, Træna and Værøy recording the largest job gains (in percent).

Non-resident employment close to pre-pandemic levels

As for non-resident employment, the number of jobs held by non-residents in Norway decreased significantly during the pandemic. However, with the easing of cross-border mobility restrictions and an increasing demand for labor, non-resident employment levels have now nearly returned to pre-pandemic figures.

About the data

Data on jobs are from Statistic Norway “Number of employments and earnings“. Seasonally adjusted number of jobs is published monthly, while data on jobs by county and municipality, as well as by immigration category is published every quarter.

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The employment rate among the working-age population currently stands at approximately 70%. Despite decreasing slighthly over the past months, the employment rate remains at one of its highest levels since 2012. The youth population (aged 15-24) has seen a particularly strong increase in employment since the end of 2021.


By age

By sex

A high employment rate compared to other countries

Compared to other industrialised countries, Norway has a high employment rate, standing at almost 10 percentage points higher than EU27 average as of Q4 2022. Norway currently has the fifth highest employment rate for men and the fouth highest female employment rate for women.




It is worth noting that this number for Norway is slightly different from the seasonally adjusted monthly number mentioned previously, as this data is based on the lastest quarterly data for international comparisons.

A low and stable temporary employment rate

Temporary employment rates vary significantly between countries, reflecting different labor market policies and regulations. The latest data from 2021 shows that Norway had a temporary employment rate of around 9%, which is lower than the average rate of 12% for OECD-countries. Norway’s temporary employment rate is also significantly lower than the rates in Denmark (11%), Sweden (15%), and Finland (16%).

The temporary employment rate in Norway has been relatively stable over time, fluctuating around 7% as measured in Q4 for the last 10 years. The current temporary employment rate in Norway is approximately the same as it was in 2012.

Temporary employment is much more common among younger age groups. Over the past ten years, data for Q4 2022 shows that the temporary employment rate for youth stood at around 25%. This rate is over three times as high as the average for the population as a whole.

About the data

Data on employment are from Statistics Norway "Labour force survey seasonally-adjusted figures".  New data are published monthly as a three-month moving average.

International data on employment and temporary employment are from the OECD.

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The increased demand for labour since the middle of 2021 contributed to the unemployment rate falling below pre-pandemic levels at the start of 2022. Since spring 2022, unemployment started to rise standing a 3.5% in April 2023 (103 000 persons), 12 000 more than in April 2022. However, in the last two months has remained relatively stable.

The increasing trend seen during 2022 is especially prevalent amoung youth (15-24) where the unemployment rate now stands at above 11% compared to around 9% in spring last year.



By age

By sex

Lower unemployment than in most other countries

Unemployment has fallen in most European countries during 2021 and 2022 and is currently around 6% on average in the EU, according to the latest data from Eurostat. This is a decrease from the pandemic peak of nearly 8% reached in autumn 2020.

Norway has traditionally had one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, with the latest internationally comparable data showing that despite recent increases Norway still has a significantly lower unemployment rate than other Scandinavian and European countries and the EU average.

While youth unemployment in Norway is also low compared to other countries, it is much closer to the EU average than the unemployment rate for the overall population.

About the data

Data on unemployment are from Statistics Norway "Labour Force Survey".

International data on unemployment are from Eurostat.

Link to our terms of use.

During 2021 and 2022, the number of job vacancies increased significantly as the economy began to recover from the pandemic. The trend has since continued into 2023, and according to Statistics Norway, the first quarter of 2023 saw the highest numbers of vacancies recorded, with over 130,000 job openings.

Strong demand for labour in administrative and support services

According to the latest data, the majority of job vacancies can be found in the domestic trade sector, with 19 500 vacancies in the first quarter of 2023. When looking at the vacancy rate, which is the number of vacancies as a percentage of the total number of job positions, the administrative and support service sector has the highest share at over 6%. Mining is currently the sector with the lowest vacancy rate.

Vacancy rates on the rise across Europe

According to data from Eurostat, the job vacancy rate is increasing in several European countries and has now reached a higher level than it was prior to the pandemic. While this trend is generally seen as a positive sign for the job market, it is important to note that a high vacancy rate can also be negative if businesses are unable to find qualified labor to fill open positions. This can lead to a bottleneck in the economy and hinder overall growth.

In Q4 2022, Norway's job vacancy rate of 3.7% was higher than Sweden (3.0%), Finland (2.9%) and the EU27-average (2.9%).

About the data

Data on vacancies are from Statistics Norway 'Job Vacancies'. New data is published every quarter. Note that the data does not separate between full-time and part-time posts.

International data on vacancies are from Eurostat.

Link to our terms of use.

Norway has a higher proportion of part-time employment compared to many other European countries. According to Eurostat data, in 2022, the proportion of employed individuals working part-time in Norway was about 8 percentage points higher than the average for the EU27 member states, standing at 26%.

For women, the share is significantly higher than for men, with 35% of women working part-time in Norway compared to 17% of men.




One reason for the high part-time share is that many young Norwegians engage in both part-time work and education simultaneously.

Eurostat data from 2021 illustrates that the proportion of young people in Norway simultaneously pursuing both education and employment is twice the EU average.

One of the shortest working weeks in Europe

The average working week in Norway is shorter than in most other European countries. According to Eurostat, the average weekly work hours per employee in Norway is 33 hours, compared to 36 hours in the EU.

It's important to note that this data includes both full-time and part-time workers, which means that the high proportion of part-time employment in Norway contributes to the lower average weekly work hours.

When considering only full-time employees (the second map below), the differences between Norway and the EU become much smaller.

Stable annual working hours

Norway is amongst the countries with the lowest annual working hours per employee. As in many other countries, the average annual hours of work have been significantly reduced since the 1970s, in large part due to working-hour reforms such as increased holidays and shortening of the working week.

Since 2000 there have been only minor changes in annual working hours, however, data from Eurostat shows a reduction in working hours from 2019 to 2020 due to the negative impact of the pandemic on labour markets. This is especially pronouced when looking at the EU and OECD-average, with Norway significantly less affected.

About the data

Data on working hours are from Eurostat, while data on annual working hours are from the OECD.

Link to our terms of use.

Norway has one of the highest labour productivity levels among industrialised countries, as measured by GDP per hour worked. This is due to a combination of factors, including a highly skilled and educated workforce and good and stable working conditions.

It's important to note that when comparing labour productivity levels between countries, one should be cautious in interpreting the data. In certain countries, such as Ireland and Luxembourg, the presence of multinational companies can have a significant impact on economic output and income transfers. This can skew the productivity figures.

Lower productivity growth in recent years

In most industrialized countries, including Norway, productivity growth over the last decade has been markedly lower than at the start of the century.

When considering the last two decades as a whole, Norway's productivity performance is among the best among industrialized countries.

However, a closer analysis of the data reveals that the majority of Norway's productivity gains were made during the period leading up to the financial crisis (2000-2007), with growth rates during that time period being notably higher than those seen after 2010. Despite the more modest growth rates in recent years, Norway's productivity levels remain high.

Large differences in productivity between industries

The oil and gas industry is by far the most productive sector in the Norwegian economy, with a value-added of over 6,000 NOK per hour worked. This is significantly higher than the industry average of 747 NOK per hour, and 627 NOK per hour for mainland Norway.

In a study of productivity growth over time, Statistics Norway found that since 2007, the manufacturing sector has had higher growth than the average for the mainland economy. Similarly, wholesale and retail trade, along with financial and insurance activities, have also experienced stronger-than-average growth during this period. Conversely, the construction industry has seen lower-than-average growth. This indicates that the productivity growth has not evenly distributed across all the sectors of the economy.

About the data

International data on productivity are from the OECD "Compendium of Productivity Indicators".

Data on productivity are from the National Budget and Statistics Norway. There is also a detailed industry comparison in Statistics Norway "Økonomisk Utsyn for 2020" (chapter 4).

Link to our terms of use.

From 2021 to 2022, the average annual earnings for a full-time employee increased by over 4%. This was the highest annual increase since 2008.

Despite wage growth, workers faced a decline in real wages in 2022, as inflation surpassed wage increases, leading to reduced purchasing power. Inflation reached 5.8% in 2022, marking the highest annual increase since the 1980s. As a result, real wages fell by -1.4%.

Given that real wage growth ended at 0.0% in 2021, as wages and prices increased equally, 2022 is the second year in a row without real wage increases in Norway.

Strong coordination between sectors in the wage formation

Coordinated wage bargaining is a key feature of Norway's approach to setting wages. In this model, there is a high degree of coordination between the different negotiating areas, with the manufacturing sector, which is exposed to international competition, serving as a benchmark for wage growth in other sectors. The aim of this coordination is to ensure that annual wage growth is not higher than what companies in internationally exposed sectors can sustain in the long term.

The similarities in average wage growth across the main negotiating areas over the past years are an indication of the high degree of coordination. This approach allows for the maintenance of a balance between wages and productivity, ensuring that businesses in internationally exposed sectors can remain competitive, while also ensuring an even distribution of wage growth to workers across different sectors of the economy.

High wage levels in Norway compared to other countries

Norway has one of the highest wage levels among industrialized countries, according to the OECD. (Note that comparisons of wage levels between countries can be challenging and should be interpreted with caution.)

Data from the OECD also show that wages in Norway have grown faster than most other countries from 2000-2007 (3.2% compared to an OECD average of 1.1%). However, from 2007-2021, average annual real wage growth in Norway has been more in line with other countries (1.2% compared to an OECD average of 0.7%). This is worth noting that real wage growth has been significantly lower from 2007-2021 than from 2000-2007 for most of the OECD-countries.

Earnings by occupation

Statistics Norway publishes data on monthly earnings for almost 400 occupational groups. Employees' occupations are classified based on the actual job content, and not their educational level, type of employment contract, wage or sector.

The searchable table on Statistics Norway's website contains data for almost 400 occupational groups for 2022. As per the latest data, mining managers were the highest-earning occupational group, followed by trade brokers managers and securities and finance dealers and brokers.

Note that the monthly earnings referred to in the visualizations below include agreed monthly earnings, including bonuses and irregular supplements, but exclude overtime pay.

It's important to note that in almost all occupations, the average wage is higher than the median wage. This is due to the uneven distribution of earnings within each occupation. A chart provided by Statistics Norway, reproduced below, illustrates this by mapping the distribution of monthly earnings in 2021 for all wage earners.

The majority of people are in the low to medium earnings ranges, with a small percentage earning very high wages. According to Statistics Norway, 60% of wage earners earned less than the average wage in 2021. This highlights the importance of understanding both the average and median wages when analysing earnings data, as it provides a more complete picture of the distribution of wages within a given occupation or overall economy.

The uneven distribution of earnings within each occupation is the reason why the average wage is higher than the median wage. The median is the centerpoint of the distribution and in 2021, according to the data provided by Statistics Norway, the median was around 5,000 NOK lower than the average.

Tthe difference between average and median wages can vary widely depending on the occupational group. The table below shows this difference among occupational groups. For example, for some occupational groups, such as brokers, the average wage can be as high as 30% above the median wage, which indicate that there are some very high earners in the distribution.

Earnings by occupation and sector

Statistic Norway also publishes earnings data for the same type of occupation in different sectors of the economy. For relevant occupational groups, this allows for comparisons of what similar occupations earn in the public and private sectors.

Differences in earnings between women and men

There are several ways of measuring earnings differences between women and men. The chart below shows the differences in average monthly earnings and median monthly earnings, both for all employees and for full-time employees.

Women work part-time to a larger extent than men, and to a lesser degree than men have high wages. Even accounting for such factors by looking at full-time employees and median earnings, women earn less than men.

Differences in earnings by occupation between women and men

The table below shows women's earnings as a share of men's in different occupations. Women earn less than men in all but around 40 occupations. Brokers and sheet metal workers have the largest difference in favour of men, with women earning 71% of men's wages. The largest difference, in favour of women, is for client information workers.

Earnings and educational level

According to data from Statistics Norway, it is clear that on average, individuals with higher levels of education tend to earn more than those with lower levels of education across all industries. However, when comparing earnings among individuals with similar educational levels, there are notable differences among industries.

Individuals with primary and lower secondary education as their highest level of education earn the most in the financial and insurance sector. Meanwhile, those with upper secondary and higher education earn the highest in the mining and quarrying industry.

Earnings by municipality

When looking at the earnings of individuals who work in a specific municipality, Bærum had the highest earnings level. Bærum is also highest when only looking at the wage level of thos residing in the region.

About the data

Data on earnings and wages are from Statistics Norway. Data on wage growth by negotiation area are from The Norwegian Technical Calculation Committee for Wage Settlement.

International data on earnings and wages are from OECDs Employment Outlook 2022 ("Annex A, Table N).

Link to our terms of use.

Trade unions play a crucial role in shaping the Norwegian labour market. The data shows that roughly half of all employees are members of a trade union, with a density rate that while lower than other Nordic countries, is still notably higher than the average for industrialised countries.

Despite a general trend of declining union density in OECD countries, with an average decrease of five percentage points since 2000, Norway has seen a less significant drop in union membership compared to most other countries. This indicates that trade unions continue to hold a strong presence in the Norwegian labour market and play an important role.

LO is the largest trade union confederation

As of the end of 2022, there were over 2 million members of trade unions in Norway. Among these, close to 1.4 million were actively engaged in the labor market.

Trade unions are, broadly speaking, organised into four main confederations: LO, Unio, Akademikerne, and YS. LO is the largest of these confederations, measured by the number of working members. LO is is followed by Unio, Akademikerne and YS. Over time, the share of working members have remained relatively stable between the largest confederations.

The below table shows the associated unions within each of the main confederations. At the associated union level, Fagforbundet (LO), is the largest, followed by Utdanningsforbundet (Unio) and Fellesforbundet (LO).






About the data

Data on trade unions and employer organisations are from Statistics Norway "Trade union members and strikes".

International data are from the OECD/AIAS ICTWSS database.

Link to our terms of use.

A significant majority of private sector employees, nearly 75%, work for firms that are affiliated with an employer organization. This indicates a high level of participation in such organizations, which play an important role in shaping labor market policies and representing the interests of employers.

In comparison to other Nordic countries, Norway has a higher employer organization density rate than Denmark and Finland, but a lower rate than Sweden. Notably, the density rate in Norway has been on the rise over the past two decades, increasing by about 8 percentage points since 2000. This increase is in contrast to the trend in other countries like Denmark and Germany where the density rate has been on the decline, while in Sweden is also has been increased over the same period.

As of the end of 2022, approximately 66,500 firms were affiliated with an employer organization in Norway. These affiliated firms employed a total of approximately 1.94 million individuals, an increase of 130 000 since 2018.

NHO is the largest employer organisation

Among the employer organizations, the NHO (The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise) stands out as the largest organization, both measured in terms of the number of firms and the number of employees in the affiliated firms. Note that from 1 January 2023, Finans Norge (Finance Norway) is part of NHO.

About the data

Data on trade unions and employer organisations are from Statistics Norway "Trade union members and strikes".

International data are from the OECD/AIAS ICTWSS database.

Link to our terms of use.

As the labor market continues to evolve at a rapid pace, lifelong learning has become an increasingly critical aspect of equipping the workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

Data from the 2016 Adult Education Survey (AES) indicates that Norway has a high level of participation in lifelong learning, with approximately 6 out of 10 adults engaging in some form of learning activity.

This places Norway among the top countries in terms of adult participation in lifelong learning, with a share that is 16 percentage points above the EU average. In comparison to other European countries for which data is available, Norway is ranked joint 4th in terms of participation rate.

The AES will next be published in 2023, collecting data through the Labour Force Survey (LFS), providing updated information on the landscape of lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning is a strategic priority for the EU and a key means for equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the changing labor market. The EU has set ambitious targets for increasing participation in learning activities, aiming for a participation rate of at least 47% by 2025 and 60% by 2030.

Note that the data from AES in 2016 is adjusted to be comparable to future data collection through the Labour Force Survey by excluding "guided on-the-job training’".

Increased participation in lifelong learning in 2022

More recent data on adult learning in Norway can be found in The Learning Conditions Monitor (LCM), conducted by Statistics Norway. This monitor provides a detailed and current look at adult learning in the country and is based on data collected through the Labour Force Survey. However, due to a revision of the LFS in 2021, there is a break in the time series and the data presented is not be directly comparable with that from previous years.

The Learning Condition Monitor for 2022 shows an increase in the share of employed individuals participating in non-formal education and traning compared to 2021. This is also by far the most common learning activity for employed individuals, and includes various forms of courses, seminars, and conferences with training as the main purpose. The proportion of employed individuals who participated in formal further education or training was similar to that in 2021. In addition, the proportion of those who did not participate in formal or non-formal education fell. Note that the figures exclude employed individuals who primarily consider themselves as students.

The Learning Condition Monitor also shows how employed individuals in different industries participate in different learning activities. The figures for 2022 show that public administration has the highest participation in non-formal education. The accommodation and food services industry has the highest proportion of formal education, and this is also the industry where formal education is more common than non-formal education.

For the first time, the 2022 Learning Condition Monitor also includes a measure of participation in learning-intensive work, defined as employed individuals who have opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills through their daily work. In this category, information and communication are the highest. The proportion of those who have not participated in either formal or non-formal education is highest in mining, manufacturing, etc.; agriculture, forestry and fishing; and transportation and storage.

About the data

Data for Norway and EU countries is from the Adult Education Survey. Adjusted numbers from AES for 2016 can be found here.

Data from Norway for 2021 is from The Learning Conditions Monitor.

Link to our terms of use.

Forecasts are sourced from a range of national and international organisations, such as Statistics Norway, the Central Bank of Norway, social partners, banks and the IMF and OECD. The complete list of included forecasts, accompanied by links to their respective publications, can be found below.

The page covers several key indicators for the Norwegian labour market and economy, including unemployment, wages, Mainland-Norway economic growth, and inflation. For every indicator, a table with the forecasts by year is presented, together with an unweighted "consensus" average. This consensus subsequently displayed in a chart alongside historical data. Note that forecasts older than 100 days from the present day are shown in the table but excluded in the calculation of the consensus.

The page was last updated 2 June 2023.


Registered unemployment

Employed persons

Labour force

Participation rates

Working hours



GDP Mainland-Norway