Dutch unused labour force among the lowest in Europe

The unused labour force is relatively small in the Netherlands compared to other European Union (EU) member states. Last year, the unused labour force, defined as people available for employment within a fortnight or people who have been looking for work over the past four weeks, comprised 6 percent of the 15 to 75-year-old population.

Approximately 750 thousand people in the Netherlands available or looking for work

Last year, 754 thousand Dutch residents in the age category 15–75 were included in the unused labour force or 6 percent of the population. Within the EU, the unused labour force was only smaller in Malta, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany.

Unused labour force, 2011

Unused labour force, 2011

Unused labour force substantial in Estonia, Latvia and Spain

Within the EU, 9 percent of the population (34 million people) were available or looking for work. The largest unused labour forces are found in Estonia, Latvia and Spain: 13 percent (Estonia), 15 percent (Latvia) and 18 percent (Spain).

Half of unused labour force unemployed

Just over half (52 percent) of the unused labour force in the Netherlands are defined as unemployed. These are people who are available for the labour market and looking for employment. An additional nearly 40 percent are shortly available, but were not actively looking for work during the past four weeks. More than one in ten were looking, but not immediately available, for example, because they were in the process of completing an education or on account of personal circumstances or illness.

Composition of the unused labour force in the Netherlands, by age, 2011

Composition of the unused labour force in the Netherlands, by age, 2011

Older people more often available, but not actively looking for employment

The unused labour force is larger among young people than among older people: 11.5 percent of 15 to 25-year-olds versus 4 percent of over-55s. The composition between the various age categories also differs. A relatively large part of over-55s is available, but they are not looking for jobs, the reason being that they are pessimistic: although they are available for employment, they are not actively looking, because they think their chances of success are poor.

Henk-Jan Dirven and Francis van der Mooren