According to the latest figures by Statistics Netherlands, the number of welfare benefits claims on 30 June 2004 was 339 thousand, the same as in March. It is the first time in 18 months that there was no increase in the number of welfare benefits claims.
The number of unemployment benefits (WW) increased to 315 thousand in the second quarter, while the number of labour disablement benefits (WAO, AAW, WAZ, WAJONG) had decreased to 968 thousand by the end of June.
Stable number of welfare benefits
The economic slowdown led to a rise in the number of welfare recipients, starting in October 2002. The number of welfare recipients increased by over a thousand a month until the end of April 2004. On 30 June 2004 the number of recipients of welfare benefits was 339 thousand, same as in the preceding quarter. This meant the rise in welfare benefits came to a halt after eighteen months. Perhaps the law on work and welfare that came into force on 1 January 2004 had a positive influence on the number of welfare benefits claims.
Slowdown in growth rate of unemployment benefits (WW)
Unemployment benefits (WW) on 30 June 2004 had reached 315 thousand. The seasonally corrected WW figure was 322 thousand. During the first six months of 2004, the WW increased by an average of 5.5 thousand benefits a month. This growth rate is lower than in 2003, when WW unemployment benefits increased by an average of 7 thousand a month.
Labour disablement numbers down
On 30 June 2004, there were 968 thousand claims to labour disablement benefits. This is 4 thousand less than the quarter before. Since January 2003 the number of labour disablement benefits (WAO, WAZ en Wajong) fell by an average of 1.5 thousand benefits a month. This decrease is related to a new law (Wet Verbetering Poortwachter), that aims to limit the number of new claimants.
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