There are many reasons that may explain the distribution and concentration of economic activities across regions. Natural resource endowments may clarify why some regions are particularly specialised in mining or forestry, whilst factors such as the weather, location or landscape, a critical mass of clients or the supply of skilled labour may foster employment specialisations in agriculture, tourism, services or industry.
Regional employment specialisation can be analysed by the extent to which a region records a higher share of employment in a particular economic sector than the EU average.
In 2016, there were 232 million people employed in the European Union (EU) in the following six economic activities:
- agriculture, forestry and fishing (10.4 million people employed; 4.5% of the EU total);
- industry (35.6 million; 15.3%);
- construction (14.7 million; 6.3%);
- wholesale and retail trade; transport; accommodation and food service activities; information and communication (64.4 million; 27.7%)
- financial and insurance; real estate; professional, scientific and technical; administrative and support service activities (38.1 million; 16.4%); and
- public administration — defence; social security; education; health and social work — arts, entertainment and recreation; others (69.1 million; 29.7%).
The source dataset is accessible here.
Compared to these EU averages of employment by economic activity, the following regions differed the most in 2016:
- agriculture, forestry and fishing: among the eastern and southern areas of the EU, 27 different regions reported an employment share at least three times as high as the EU average of 4.5%, including five out of the six regions in Bulgaria, eight out of the thirteen regions in Greece, six regions in Poland, and five out of the eight regions in Romania;
- industry: the Vest development area of Romania had a share of employment in industry nearly three times as high as the EU average of 15.3%, followed by four regions that together form the northern border of Czechia;
- construction: the French island region of Corse, followed by three regions in the south of the United Kingdom, Malopolskie in Poland, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Burgenland in the east of Austria were all at least 50% higher than the EU average of 6.3%;
- wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services, information and communication: six regions characterised as tourist destinations: Notio Aigaio, Ionia Nisia and Kriti in Greece, the two Spanish island regions of Canarias and Illes Balears and the Algarve in Portugal were all around 50% or more higher than the EU average of 27.7%;
- financial and insurance; real estate; professional, scientific and technical; administrative and support service activities: the two regions that make up Inner London each reported an employment share more than double the EU average of 16.4%, followed by the capital city regions of the three Benelux Member States; and
- public administration; arts, entertainment and recreation; others: relatively remote regions such as the two Spanish autonomous cities and the overseas departments of France had employment shares more than 50% above the EU average of 29.7%.
The source dataset is accessible here.
Note: The share of the total number of persons employed in each region is computed for the six activities; a similar calculation is made for the whole of the EU-28; the most specialised activity is computed by taking the regional shares and subtracting the EU-28 shares; the map shows, for each region, the activity whose employment share exceeeded the EU-28 average by the largest margin (as measured in percentage point terms).
Norway and Switzerland: national data.
Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania: provisional.
The map does not necessarily indicate the activity with the biggest workforce; rather, it shows the activity with the highest share of the regional workforce relative to the same ratio for the whole of the EU.
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