During the 12-month period from August 2018 to July 2019, the average total number of employers in Iceland was 18,489 and the average number of employees was 194,500. This is an increase of 300 (1.7%) employers and 1,800 (1.0%) employees compared with the period from August 2017 to August 2018.

In July 2019, there were about 135,100 employees in the business sectors which is a decrease of 5,200 ( 3.7%) as compared with July 2018. During this 12-month period, the total number of employees decreased by 400 (-0.2%).


In accordance with recent collective agreements some employees received their “summer bonus” in April instead of May. Furthermore, some employees (mainly in the public sector) received a one-off payment in July. Some of those would otherwise not have received payments that month, therefore the number of employees is overestimated. Thus, the 9.8% increase in the number of employees in “public administration, compulsory social security and education” from July 2018 to July 2019 does not give a just estimate of the situation. In this group, the number of employees increased by 3.3% from June 2018 to June 2019. The number of employees is estimated from PAYE data. Many employees receive a “summer bonus” (May) and a “Christmas bonus” (November-December). Some former employees and employees on maternity leave are entitled to these bonuses which tends to inflate the number of employees during these months. However, the year-to-year change in the number of employees is normally not affected by the inflated figures.

Number of employers and employees in selected activities
Employers Employees in July
  July 2019 2018 2019 Change %
All activities 18,270 204,700 204,300 -400 -0.2
Business sectors (NACE no. 03-82, 95-96) 14,451 140,300 135,100 -5,200 -3.7
Fisheries (NACE no. 031, 102) 637 8,500 8,000 -400 -5.3
Manufacturing except fish processing (NACE no. 10-33 except 102)1,013 18,200 17,800 -400 -2.1
Construction (NACE no. 41-43)2,819 14,500 14,500 100 0.4
Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (NACE no. 45)505 3,700 3,500 -200 -4.6
Wholesale trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles (NACE no. 46)978 9,400 9,500 0 0.5
Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles (NACE no. 47)845 15,100 14,900 -200 -1.6
Public administration, compulsory social security and education (NACE no. 84-85)567 47,300 51,900 4,600 9.8
Human health and social work activities (NACE no. 86-88)1,141 17,500 18,500 1,000 5.9
Tourism industries (NACE no. 491, 4932, 4939, 501, 503, 511, 551-553, 561, 563, 771, 7721, 79)2,008 31,900 29,000 -2,900 -9.2
High technology manufacturing and services (NACE no. 20, 254, 26-30, 325, 53, 58, 60-63, 72)93313,30012,900 -300 -2.5

Causes of error and revision of statistics
These figures are preliminary. When using income data as the source, there is a risk of underestimating the latest figures if employers do not submit information in a timely manner. Other causes of error include reimbursements to former employees. When new data are published, previous figures are revised. For more information on revisions and the magnitude of recent revisions by economic activity, please refer to the metadata.

Previously published statistics on employers and employees have been revised to take into account the latest available information on salaries and classifications of employers based on their main economic activities.

The number of employers in March 2019 is now estimated at 18,179 and the total number of employees is estimated at 187,000. The number of employees decreased by 400 ( 0.3%) from March 2018 to March 2019.

In May, the number of employers and employees in March were estimated at 18,034 and 186,800, respectively. The number of employees was then estimated to have decreased by 600 ( 0.3%) from March 2018 to March 2019.

Other statistics on the business economy
It should be noted that these figures do not include information on self-employed people with calculated remuneration, a common situation in construction, agriculture and creative industries. Statistics Iceland publishes register-based data on people in employment including those who are on maternity leave or self-employed. That publication encompasses the number of employees by gender, age, origin and legal residence.

Statistics Iceland conducts a continuous labour force survey (LFS). The main results (e.g. unemployment) are published monthly and more detailed results (number of full-time employees, working hours by industry, etc.) are published annually. The labour force survey provides information on both employees and self-employed people and only people who are permanently living in Iceland are included in the sample. Hence, the LFS figures are not the same as published in this press release. Data on the number of employers and employees should be used mainly as short-term indicators and to provide information on within-year variations.

Statistics Iceland publishes annual income and balance statements of enterprises by activity, based on tax returns to provide a detailed picture of the individual sectors for the period 2002-2017.

Statistics on activities related to tourism
Statistics on all economic activities