Estimates of employment back to 1930 in the national accounts

Twice as many employed persons


Employment in the primary industries has declined from 41 per cent of total employment in 1930 to 3 per cent in 2007, while the service industries’ proportion of total employment has increased from 36 to 76 per cent. Hours worked per employed person have declined by 40 per cent.

Statistics Norway has now estimated new historical figures for the all years from 1930 to 1969 comprising employed persons, full-time equivalent persons, total hours worked, wages and salaries and compensation of employees. All figures are estimated by industry, and are based on old figures from the national accounts published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The new historical figures are consistent with the ordinary time-series from the national accounts starting in 1970.

In conclusion, the figures show that the number of employed people has doubled from 1930, but the average employee works less than he did 75 years ago.

Due to the fact that more people are employed, but work fewer hours each, total hours worked by employees and self-employed have increased by approximately 25 per cent from 1930 until today.

Employed persons. 1930-2007.

Employed persons. 1930-2007. Annual percentage change.

While every employed person worked 2381 hours in average in 1930, the corresponding figure for 2007 was 1411. The decrease in working hours can be explained by changes in labour legislation and agreements and more part-time work. Standard working hours per week have decreased from 48 to 37.5 hours, while the number of holidays has increased. The number of part-time employees, increased particularly during the 1970s, when more women became employed.

The 1930s and the Second World War

The economic depression in 1931 resulted in a 16 per cent decline in manufacturing employment while the hours worked dropped by 23 per cent. This year is also characterised by comprehensive strikes and lockouts. The economy recovered, however, and in the period 1931-1939 employment in manufacture increased by 45 per cent and total employment increased by nearly 20 per cent.

The war years 1940-1945 are, in contrast with earlier national accounts, also covered by the new employment estimates. Many employees were reallocated among industries in these years, mainly due to compulsory provision of employment by the German occupation authorities. Construction of military buildings and airports, and repairing of damaged roads and bridges were given high priority. Manufacturing of machinery and wood products also experienced increased employment because of German demands.

The post-war period

Most of this period is characterised by strong growth in employment, particularly in the service industries. Manufacturing employment reached its top in 1974. At the same time oil and gas extraction entered as a new industry in the Norwegian economy. The most severe recession took place in the years 1988-1992 when total employment declined by 5 per cent. The highest growth rates in employment are estimated for the years 1946 (5.8 per cent) and 2007 (4 per cent).