In the first quarter of 2004 the number of unemployments benefits (WW) grew again and totalled 311 thousand at the end of March but the growth rate is slowing down. The number of benefits paid under the National Assistance Act (ABW) grew steadily to reach 339 thousand at the end of March 2004. According to figures published by Statistics Netherlands, the number of labour disablement benefits (WAO) continued to drop; 972 thousand persons received this type of benefit at the end of March, a reduction of 10 thousand compared to the preceding quarter.
Increase in unemployment benefits decelerating
At the end of March 311 thousand people received unemployment benefits (WW). The seasonally corrected figure was 299 thousand. This means an average increase of 4 thousand a month. This is less than in the last six months of 2003 when the average monthly increase was 6 thousand. In the first half of 2003 the average increase was even higher and amounted to 8 thousand a month.
National assistance benefits up
The number of benefits paid under the National Assistance Act (ABW) was 339 thousand at the end of March 2004, an increase of 4 thousand on the preceding quarter. National assistance benefits steadily rose during the first quarter by over 1 thousand a month. On average national assistance benefits increased at the same rate in 2003. On 1 January 2004 a new act was introduced giving municipalities a greater financial responsibility and more opportunities to help recipients of national assistance benefits to find jobs. However, it is still too early to say whether the introduction of the new act has a positive effect on the number of benefits paid.
Decrease in labour disablement benefits growing
The number of labour disablement benefits (WAO) decreased by 10 thousand in the first quarter of 2004 and totalled 972 thousand at the end of March. The average monthly decrease by over 3 thousand was higher than in 2003 when labour disablement benefits fell by an average 1 thousand a month. The reduction began in 2003 with the introduction of an act obliging employers to give sick employees more support and attention. The number of labour disablement benefits is now the same as in the middle of 2001.
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