60 per cent of immigrants are employed


More than 390 000 immigrants were employed in the 4th quarter of 2016. This group constituted 60.2 per cent of immigrants settled in Norway aged 15-74 years. In the rest of the population, the employment rate was 66.7 per cent. These rates have only declined marginally since 2015.

There are, however, large disparities among the immigrant groups. Immigrants from the EEA countries, who include large numbers of labour immigrants, have considerably higher rates than other immigrants. The employment rates among these groups in the 4th quarter of 2016 were as follows:

  • The Nordic countries: 72.6 per cent,
  • EU countries in Eastern Europe: 70.1 per cent
  • Western Europe: 67.2 per cent

Next we find immigrants from Eastern Europe outside the EU, North America/Oceania and Latin America, with shares in employment between 60 and 62 per cent. Asians, meanwhile, had a lower rate, at 52 per cent. As in earlier years, the African group had the lowest rate, at 42.3 per cent.

These disparities have been quite stable irrespective of economic cycles. Immigrants from Asia and Africa have larger shares of refugees than other groups, and many of them have a short time of residence in Norway. With a longer time of residence, the employment level rises within most of the immigrant groups, but the disparities among the groups do not level out. Even among those with 10 years or more of residence in Norway, African immigrants have the lowest employment rate, with just over 50 per cent, which is more than 10 percentage points below the average for immigrants with this duration of residence.

Limitation of age groups impacts the employment disparity

Statistics Norway’s labour market statistics cover the age population 15-74 years. Within this age group there is a disparity of 6.5 percentage points in the employment rate between the immigrant and the non-immigrant population (i.e. the majority). For the population aged 15-66 years, however, the disparity is greater, at 11.3 percentage points. This is due to an enhanced level of employment among the majority population when the oldest stratum is excluded from the calculation. The majority population differs from the immigrant population, with a much larger share of people aged 67-74 years (11.4 versus 3.2 per cent). Within the most economically active age group, 25-54 years, which constitutes three-quarters of immigrants, the disparity is even greater at 16.4 percentage points.

Figure 1. Employed, 15-74 years by immigrant-background and age. In per cent of persons in total within each group. Q4. 2016

15-19 years 20-24 years 25-39 years 40-54 years 55-66 years 66-74 years
Non-immigrant population 34.7 63.6 82.4 84.4 67.5 17.8
Immigrants 18.9 48.7 65.9 68.6 53.5 14.8

Figure 2. Employed, 15-74 years by immigrant-background, world-region and age. In per cent of persons in total within each group. Q4. 2016

15-19 years 20-24 years 25-39 years 40-54 years 55-66 years 66-74 years
Non-immigrant population 34.7 63.6 82.4 84.4 67.5 17.8
Immigrants, EU/EEA countries etc. 21.1 55.0 74.8 78.1 66.2 18.5
Immigrants, Asia, Africa etc, 17.8 44.9 57.4 60.1 42.1 9.6

Figure 3. Persons, 15-74 years by age and immigrant-background. Per cent. Q4. 2016

Non-immigrant population Immigrants
15-19 years 8.9 5.0
20-24 years 9.0 7.0
25-39 years 23.7 44.0
40-54 years 27.2 30.2
55-66 years 19.9 10.6
67-74 years 11.4 3.2

Greater gender disparities among immigrants

The employment rate was 63.5 per cent among immigrant men versus 56.6 among immigrant women, i.e. a difference of 6.9 percentage points. The corresponding disparity within the rest of the population was 3.6 percentage points; 68.5 per cent (men) versus 64.9 per cent (women). However, some immigrant groups have much greater gender disparities than the immigrant average, for instance immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Turkey. On the other hand, the gender disparities among immigrants from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chile, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Serbia were similar to the majority.

Figure 4. Employed immigrants, 15-74 years by selected countries of birth and sex. In per cent of persons in total within each group. Q4. 2016

Women Men
Syria 10.0 17.2
Eritrea 38.2 37.8
Somalia 24.1 39.8
Iraq 38.8 51.2
Marocco 39.7 52.7
Ethiopia 50.1 53.8
Afghanistan 34.3 56.0
Russia 60.7 58.2
Turkey 39.4 60.3
Kosovo 53.9 62.0
Pakistan 31.8 62.8
Vietnam 57.6 62.9
Chile 60.0 63.5
Latvia 66.3 65.8
Bosnia-Herzegovina 63.4 66.2
United Kingdom 54.1 66.8
Philippines 63.1 67.1
India 49.9 67.9
Romania 63.5 69.6
Denmark 64.6 70.7
Serbia 68.2 71.7
Lithuania 68.6 72.3
Germany 68.4 73.6
Sri Lanka 63.4 73.7
Poland 66.3 74.8
Sweden 75.8 77.7
Immigrants in total 56.6 63.5
Non-immigrant population 64.9 68.5

Norwegian-born to immigrant parents are between the majority and immigrants

Norwegian-born to immigrant parents is still a rather small and young population group. Almost half of them are below 23 years of age (within the 15-74 years population), and many will be in education and outside the labour force. Thus the employment rate will be considerably reduced when considering the group as a whole. However, if we look at the more economically active age groups, 25-29 years and 30-39 years, the employment rates are 72 and 75.4 per cent respectively. This is 12 and 7.1 percentage points above the immigrants’ level, but 6.9 and 9.2 percentage points below the employment level in the rest of the population within the corresponding age groups.