Unemployment down again in August

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© Hollandse Hoogte
  • Number of people in work continues to rise
  • Fewer 25 to 44 year-olds unemployed in last four months
  • Fewer unemployment benefits in August
  • Construction workers account for largest fall in benefits

According to figures released today by Statistics Netherlands, the number of unemployed people in the Netherlands fell for the fourth month in a row. More people have found a job in recent months. Unemployment fell by 13 thousand persons in August, to 8 percent of the labour force. Under-45s accounted for nearly all of the decrease in unemployment.

Figures from the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) show that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell by 7 thousand in August, to 430 thousand.

Continued increase in number of people finding work

After adjustment for seasonal effects, 632 thousand people were unemployed in August. The number of unemployed fell by an average 14 thousand people a month in the last three months. This was largely the result of more unemployed people finding a job. The employed labour force (people working for at least twelve hours a week) fell by an average 9 thousand people a month in the last three months. The number of people in work has been increasing for five months now, while it was still decreasing by an average 18 thousand people a month in the first quarter of the year.

Unemployment mainly lower among 25 to 44 year-olds

The strongest decrease in unemployment was reported in the age group 25 to 44 years. For the first time, the number of unemployed in this age group was slightly lower than that in the over-45 age group, where unemployment fell by less. The increase in the number of people in work  was reported mainly among the over-45s, though labour market participation in this group has been rising for a number of years now. The employed labour force aged 25 to 44 years has risen slightly in the last few months, following an almost continuous decrease for two years. The number of unemployed young people, in particular, has been falling for more than a year now, although none of them have started work; relatively many people in this group opt to continue their education, postponing their entry on the labour market.

Fewer benefits for construction workers

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell by 1.5 percent in August, to 430 thousand. In August last year the number of unemployment benefits rose by just over 1 percent. The decrease was only reported for men, the number of women claiming unemployment benefit remained about the same. The UWV recorded a fall in the number of benefits in nearly all provinces and across almost all age groups. In relative terms, the decrease was largest among the under-25s. The over-55s were the only group where the number of benefit claimants rose slightly. 

The number of unemployment benefits fell by relatively most for jobless construction sector workers. Education showed a strong increase, but this is quite usual in the summer period. The number of claimants in the care, welfare and culture sector rose modestly in August.

Substantially more benefits ending in 2014 because people find a job

The UWV paid unemployment benefits to 404 thousand new claimants in the period January to August of this year. This is around the same number as in the same period in 2013. The number of benefits stopped rose by 19 percent this year, to 411 thousand. Around 200 thousand benefits ended because claimants had found a job, 20 percent more than twelve months previously. 

Dutch unemployment relatively low

According to the definition used by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Dutch unemployment was 6.6 percent of the labour force in August, down from 6.7 percent in July.  In an international perspective, unemployment is thus relatively low in the Netherlands: in the Eurozone it was 11.5 percent in July, in the European Union 10.2 percent.  At around 5 percent, unemployment was lowest in Austria, Germany and Malta.

The main difference between the national and international definitions of the labour force is the number of weekly working hours. The international definition, which complies with the ILO guidelines, comprises everyone who works or wants to work, including students working for only a few hours a week. It has a threshold of one hour: everyone who works or wants to work for at least one hour week is part of the labour force. According to the Dutch national definition, the labour force includes people who work for a significant number of hours a week. The national threshold is thus set at twelve hours a week.

From 2015, Statistics Netherlands will base its main unemployment indicator on the ILO definition.