Immigrants Are One Fifth of Icelandic Labour Market Skip to content

Immigrants Are One Fifth of Icelandic Labour Market

Immigrants made up 18.6% of Iceland’s labour market in the second quarter of 2018. The data comes from a new publication on the Icelandic labour market by Statistics Iceland.

In the second quarter of 2018, 200,798 individuals were employed in Iceland on average. Of that number, 37,388 were immigrants, or nearly 20%. The study defined immigrants as individuals born outside of Iceland with parents and grandparents also born outside of the country. Of all those on the labour market, 47.1% were women while 53.2% were men.

As the graph below shows, the number of immigrants on the Icelandic labour market increased greatly leading up to 2007, taking a downturn following the 2008 banking collapse. The number of immigrants on the labour market is now at a record high.

Source: Statistics Iceland.

The number of jobs in Iceland has also increased rapidly over the past six years according to Karl Sigurðsson, a labour market specialist at the Directorate of Labour. “We have rarely seen such a long period where the number of jobs has increased as much,” he stated.

Though there have never been more immigrants working in Iceland or more jobs, unemployment among foreign nationals is disproportionately high. While foreigners make up just under a fifth of the labour market, one third of those unemployed are foreign nationals. Karl says foreigners can have more difficulty finding work due to a lack of connections or Icelandic language skills.

Karl adds, however, that the employment situation in Iceland is currently good “both in a historical context and an international context.”

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