Employment fell slightly in the Netherlands in 2003. The employed labour force numbered less than 7.1 million a fall of 11 thousand. The increase in employment has been slowing down since 1998, and 2003 was the first year employment actually fell: 65.1 percent of 15-64 year-olds in the Netherlands were employed in 2003, 0.5 of a percent point less than in 2002.
Increase in employed labour force, 1997-2003
Female participation continues to grow
The decrease in employment was only for men: 48 thousand fewer men were in work in 2003, while the number of employed women rose by 37 thousand. This also pushed up the participation rate of women: 55 percent of women aged between 15 and 64 years were in work in 2003.
Participation of older people also continues to rise
Labour participation among people aged 50-54 years continues to increase: 70.3 percent of people in this age group had a job of at least twelve hours a week in 2003. In 2002 this was 69.4 percent. For 55-59 year-olds participation rates remained about the same, as unemployment rose relatively sharply in this age group. Participation among 60-64 year-olds increased further, although fewer than one in five people in this age group have a paid job of at least twelve hours a week.
Labour participation in older age groups
Unemployment up further
Unemployment rose again in 2003. On average 5.3 percent of the labour force were unemployed. Unemployment increased among both men and women. For men the percentage was 4.7, for women 6.1. the difference between the rates for men and women has diminished.
Highest unemployment among younger age groups
Youth unemployment rose to 10.6 percent in 2003. Older people had the lowest rates of unemployment: 3.9 percent of all 55-64 year-olds were out of work. This means that young people are three times as likely as older people to be unemployed.
Unemployment by age
Strong rise in unemployment for 55-59 year-olds
The increase in unemployment was largest for 55-59 year-olds: at 4.0 percent in 2003, it was one and a half times the increase in 2002.
Ingrid Beckers and Sabine Lucassen