In the fourth quarter of 2004 there were 92 thousand jobs of employees less than in the fourth quarter van 2003. This brought job losses down to under 100 thousand for the first time in a year. The wage costs per employee were up by 2.4 percent on the year before. The rise in wage costs in 2004 was the lowest since 1997, according to the latest figures by Statistics Netherlands. The seasonally corrected number of jobs in the fourth quarter was down by 15 thousand on the third quarter of 2004. There is again growth in the number of jobs in business services, primarily because of temp jobs.
Decreasing job losses in the private sector
The number of private sector jobs in the fourth quarter of 2004 was down by 98 thousand on the year before. This is an 1.8 percent decrease. The first quarter of 2004 saw a decrease of 153 thousand jobs. The number of jobs in business services was up on the year before. The number of jobs in financial services was hardly lower than the year before. In construction, manufacturing and trade the number of jobs kept falling at the same rate as before. Relatively the largest decrease, of 4.9 percent, was observed in the construction industry. Manufacturing had 3.3 percent fewer jobs, trade 2.4 percent.
Increase in temp jobs continued in the fourth quarter
In the fourth quarter of 2004 there were 15 thousand jobs less than in the third quarter. These are seasonally corrected figures. The decrease is not as large as in the previous quarter. The number of jobs in business services has been growing steadily since the change halfway through 2004. This is mainly because employment in temp jobs is recovering. This is one signal that, in a number of enterprises, the economic recovery is leading to extra labour demand. Employers first meet this demand through temp agencies.
Fast rising job losses in the public sector
Public government had 11 thousand jobs less in the fourth quarter of 2004 than the year before. The start of 2004 signalled the end of years of job increases. Since then, jobs have been lost each quarter. In education the number of jobs in the fourth quarter was the same as the year before. But after nine years, job increases seem to have come to an end here as well. The number of jobs in health care and welfare increased by 17 thousand, but that is well below the increases of the recent past.
Employment not falling as much in fulltime jobs either
In the fourth quarter of 2004 employment expressed in working years (fulltime jobs) was down by 1.5 percent on the year before. So expressed in working years, employment is not decreasing as fast. The loss of employment is relatively greater than the loss of jobs (1.2 percent). This is because branches of industry where part-time work is common – such as care and business services - perform better than branches where part-time work is uncommon - such as construction and manufacturing. After several years of stagnation, labour productivity increased strongly again. This is caused by the continued decrease of the labour volume and the modest recovery of production.
Lowest wage cost increase since 1997
The wage costs per working year (fulltime jobs) were 2.4 percent higher in the fourth quarter of 2004 than in the same quarter of 2003. The average wage costs in 2004 were 2.3 percent higher than in 2003. This is a much lower wage cost increase than the 6.2 percent in 2002 and the 3.9 percent in 2003 and constitutes the lowest wage cost increase since 1997. Main cause is the modest increase in collective (CAO) wages. In 2004 CAO wages increased by 1.3 percent, compared to an average of 3.7 and 2.8 percent in 2002 and 2003. There was relatively little difference in the wage cost increases between the branches of industry in 2004. In hotels and restaurants the wage cost increase was lowest with 1.1 percent and highest with 3.3 percent in financial institutions.
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