Dutch unemployment rate still one of the lowest in Eurozone

Unemployment in the Netherlands has grown considerably in the last few years. At the beginning of 2004 6.5 percent of the Dutch labour force were unemployed, twice as many as three years previously. In the last few months the rate was just over 6 percent. In spite of the substantial increase the Netherlands still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Eurozone.

German unemployment twice as high

An international definition of unemployment is used to compare unemployment rates in Europe. According to this definition, in August Dutch unemployment was 4.7 percent of the labour force, after adjustment for seasonal effects. Only in Luxembourg, Ireland and Austria was it lower in that month. It was significantly higher in Belgium (7.7 percent), France (9.6 percent) and especially Germany (9.9 percent). In the Eurozone as a whole unemployment was 8.9 percent in August.

Unemployment in the Eurozone, August 2004

Unemployment in the Eurozone, August 2004

Development in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries

The economies of the west European euro countries are strongly connected. This is clearly reflected in how the labour market has developed in these countries. The development of unemployment in the countries around the Netherlands are similar to those in the Netherlands. Just as in Germany, Belgium and France, unemployment in the Netherlands dipped to its lowest point in the first half of 2001.This was followed by a number of years of almost constant increase. In the Netherlands this increase was relatively the largest.

Unemployment in some west European countries

Unemployment in some west European countries

In the United Kingdom, which is not a euro country, unemployment showed a different course: it decreased slowly but steadily and in June 2004 was at about the same level as in the Netherlands. Economic growth in the United Kingdom has been significantly higher than that in the Eurozone in the last few years.

Unemployment stable in recent months

In the last few months unemployment seems to have stabilised in the Netherlands. In France and the Eurozone too the highest growth seems to have passed. In Belgium and Germany unemployment had already started to stabilise in 2003, although in Germany it has been growing again since the beginning of 2004.

The most recent Dutch figures, for the period August – October, also show an increase.

Remko Hijman