During the 12-month period from October 2018 to September 2019, the average total number of employers in Iceland was 18,536 and the average number of employees was 194,300. This is an increase of 244 (1.3%) employers and 900 (0.5%) employees compared with the period from October 2017 to September 2018.


In September 2019, there were about 131,800 employees in the business sectors which is a decrease of 5,300 ( 3.8%) as compared with September 2018. During this 12-month period, the total number of employees decreased by 2,000 ( 1.0%). There was an increase in the number of employees in the main economic activities outside the business sectors. In “public administration, compulsory social security and education,” and “human health and social work activities,” the number of employees increased by 6.9% and 4.4%, respectively.

Number of employers and employees in selected activities
Employers Employees in September
  Sept. 2019 2018 2019 Change %
All activities 18,428 196,200 194,100 -2,000 -1.0
Business sectors (NACE no. 03-82, 95-96) 14,538 137,100 131,800 -5,300 -3.8
Fisheries (NACE no. 031, 102) 541 8,600 8,400 -300 -3.0
Manufacturing except fish processing (NACE no. 10-33 excluding 102)1,024 18,000 17,600 -500 -2.7
Construction (NACE no. 41-43)2,846 13,900 13,700 -200 -1.3
Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (NACE no. 45)509 3,600 3,500 -100 -3.8
Wholesale trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles (NACE no. 46)993 9,100 9,300 100 1.3
Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles (NACE no. 47)845 15,400 15,100 -300 -2.2
Financial and insurance activities (NACE no. 64-66)379 6,100 5,900 -200 -2.5
Public administration, compulsory social security and education (NACE no. 84-85)580 41,800 44,600 2,900 6.9
Human health and social work activities (NACE no. 86-88)1,174 17,300 18,000 800 4.4
Tourism industries (NACE no. 491, 4932, 4939, 501, 503, 511, 551-553, 561, 563, 771, 7721, 79)2,083 30,800 28,200 -2,500 -8.2
High technology manufacturing and services (NACE no. 20, 254, 26-30, 325, 53, 58, 60-63, 72)96213,00012,600 -300 -2.7

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 and the summary of revisions.

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 August 2019 is now estimated at 18,782 and the total number of employees is estimated at 201,600. The number of employees increased by 1,400 (-0.7%) from August 2018 to August 2019.

In October, the number of employers and employees in August were estimated at 18,402 and 200,500, respectively. The number of employees was then estimated to have decreased by 2,600 ( 1.3%) from August 2018 to August 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