OSLO, Norway, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Even before the price of crude oil started its steady decline, Norway's government reported employment in the petroleum sector was dwindling.
Economic growth has been slow for most of the year for Norway, with gross domestic product increasing by slightly less than 1 percent for the last four quarters combined.
The Norwegian economy relies heavily on the oil and natural gas industry as the country is a main supplier to the European market.
Between 2013 and 2014, the last full years for which data are available, employment in the petroleum sector increased by 2.3 percent, Statistics Norway said. That's considerably less than during the 2011-12 period, which saw 10.9 percent growth, and between 2012-13, which saw a 6.5 percent increase in employment in the petroleum sector.
As much of the decline started before crude prices started their slow fall below the $100 per barrel mark, the government's statistics office said much of the decline in employment was because of an aging workforce, suggesting the sector is not attracting younger workers.
"The share of persons below 50 years of age was 71.8 per cent in 2013, which fell by 1.1 percentage point in 2014 to 70.8 per cent," it said.
Lower crude oil prices are impacting the nation's economy in other areas. The government's statistics office has said the decline in investment in the petroleum industry is one of the key factors dragging on the Norwegian economy.
Norge Bank, the country's central bank, said in September that a weakened value of its currency, the krone, could make exports more attractive, though the overall economy is expected to falter and unemployment is projected to rise.