Labour force
24. Jan 2023
Faroese labour force grew by 3,000 people in the past five years

Out of almost 38,700 people in the Faroes aged 15-74, just below 32,900 are part of the labour force. Just over 5,800 people in this age group are thus not considered part of the labour force.

The activity rate, which is the labour force in % of the working-age population, is 84.9% for both sexes combined. The activity rate for men is 86.7% and 83.0% for women.


In the past five years, the Faroese labour force has increased by about 3,000 people. This is equivalent to a 10% increase. The population growth within the working-age population in this period was 2,800, equivalent to an 8% increase.

The activity rate has grown slightly more for men than for women. Men’s activity rate has gone up from 84.4% to 86.7%, while the women’s rate went from 81.9% to 83.0%.


Lower activity rate in southern region

The activity rate is roughly the same across the central region, which consists of the Norðoyggjar, Eysturoy, Streymoy and Vágar regions. The rate is significantly lower in the southern region, consisting of the Sandoy and Suðuroy regions. The highest activity rate, almost 87%, is in the Suðurstreymoy and Eysturoy regions. The Norðoyggjar, Norðstreymoy and Vágar regions have a slightly lower rate, at around 84%. From here, there is a drop down to about 78% for the Sandoy and Suðuroy regions.

The biggest relative increase in the past five years was in the Eysturoy, Vágar and Suðurstreymoy regions. Sandoy and Suðuroy saw a decrease in their activity rate in this same period.


Activity rates in Vágar, Norðstreymoy and Sandoy are almost equal for both sexes, while men have a significantly higher rate in Norðoyggjar, Eysturoy and Suðuroy.


About the labour force survey

The labour force includes all occupationally active people such as employees, independent traders and employers, unemployed people looking for work and people who carry out unpaid work in a family business. The inactive population includes full-time students with no income from work, people who due to illness, reduced work capacity or similar reasons are not part of the labour market and people who have left the labour market due to old age or other reasons.

The annual labour force survey is conducted in accordance with the general guidelines of the International Labour Organization (ILO), a tripartite United Nations agency. This allows for direct comparisons between the Faroese figures and those from other nations.

The labour force is determined based on information derived from administrative sources such as the national register, the tax register, the VAT register, the unemployment system and student registers administered by the Ministry of Education.

Spot checks are made through phone interviews with about 1,000 of the individuals who are not included in the administrative sources. The survey and the phone interviews cover permanent residents of the Faroe Islands aged between 15 and 74. Everyone who carried out more than one hour of occupational work during the one-week survey period in November is classified as being in active employment, regardless of whether the work was paid or unpaid. Those who do not have a job are only classified as unemployed if they are actively looking for work and are ready to start work within two weeks. Those who are neither in active employment nor unemployed are classified as occupationally inactive.