Statistics Netherlands opts for international definitions of unemployment and inflation

04/07/2014 15:00

Statistics Netherlands will use the definition of the International Labour Organisation as its main indicator of unemployment as of 2015 and the international Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) for the inflation rate. According to TjarkTjin-A-Tsoi, the Director General of Statistics Netherlands: “This step is part of a wider strategy of using the  international definitions to facilitate comparability and to avoid confusion. Furthermore Statistics Netherlands will use additional indicators far more often in order to describe complex financial-economic phenomena adequately.”


Statistics Netherlands published monthly figures about unemployment and the Dutch labour force based on two approaches: the national definition and also, since 2001, the international definition. The main difference is in the number of weekly working hours someone works or wants to work. According to the international definition, in line with the International Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines, everyone who works or wants to work is counted, including students with small jobs. The threshold is therefore set at 1 hour a week. The national definition only includes people with substantial jobs, or who are seeking such jobs, and for whom paid work is a major aspect of their daily lives. Therefore the threshold is set at 12 hours a week.  As such the indicators highlight different dimensions of the labour market.
So Statistics Netherlands will start using the international definition in 2015. Additional benchmarks will be used to complete the unemployment picture and to describe the various dimensions of the labour market adequately.


Statistics Netherlands currently publishes two figures on inflation. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), and the Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) compiled according to the guidelines of the European Union. Statistics Netherlands wants to start taking a single consumer price index, the HICP,  as the focal point of its publications. However the exact package of goods and services on which the HICP is based has to be negotiated further within the EU, for instance about the issue of costs of owner-occupied dwellings. Until this has been hashed out, Statistics Netherlands will continue to use the national definition.