Unemployment down due to contraction of the labour force

As fewer people actively engaged on the labour market in February, unemployment declined. The number of employed was about the same as in January. The unemployment rate fell from 7.2 percent in January to 7.1 percent in February. Currently, 633 thousand people in the Netherlands are unemployed, i.e. 12 thousand down from one month previously. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) announced today that unemployment has been stable since the third quarter of 2014.

The number of employed remained all but stable in February. More young people found work, but employment decreased in the age category 25-44. As the ageing process in the Dutch population continues, this age group is becoming smaller. The total number of employed has risen by an average of 4 thousand a month in the past three months.

Figures released by the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) show that 455 thousand unemployment benefits were granted in February, a decline by 2.5 thousand relative to January.

Number of employed people in February

The labour force fell by 13 thousand in February. The number of employed declined by one thousand in the same month; 7 thousand young people found work. Employment increased by 4 thousand in the age category 45-74, but decreased by 12 thousand in the age category 25-44.

Labour force down in February

In the last quarter of 2014, the labour force still grew by an average of 15 thousand a month. In the past three months, the labour force grew marginally by 3 thousand a month, but in February, the labour force shrank by 13 thousand.

The total labour force includes 8.9 million people. During the past three months, the number of 25 to 44-year-olds shrank by an average of 7 thousand a month, but the group of young and older people grew by 4 and 6 thousand a month respectively.

Reasons why people cannot or do not want to work

Altogether, the labour force increased less rapidly at the beginning of 2015 than at the end of 2014, partly, because fewer people not belonging to the labour force started to become active on the labour market. People may have various reasons for not participating on the labour market.

Last year, 81 percent in this group did not want a paid job or, for whatever reason, was unable to accept a paid job. For most 15 to 24-year-olds, the main reason for not being active on the labour market was that they attended some form of education or training. For persons aged 25-54, illness, disability or care duties were the main reasons. From the age of 55, high age or retirement are important factors for not being active on the labour market.

Number of unemployment benefits marginally down

Figures released by the Employee Insurance Agency show that 455 thousand unemployment benefits were paid in February 2015, i.e. 2 thousand down from January. More benefits were granted to over-55s in February, the number of benefits fell in all other age categories. The number of unemployment benefits increased in the province of North Brabant, but decreased or remained stable in the other Dutch provinces. Proportionally, the number of benefits fell most rapidly in February in sectors sensitive to seasonal variation, like agriculture and construction.

More unemployment benefits paid to over-55s than twelve months previously

Compared to February 2014, the number of unemployment benefits decreased by 1 percent to 455 thousand. Fewer unemployment benefits were paid to men relative to one year previously, but the number of female benefit recipients grew. Among over-50s, the number of unemployment benefits rose by 9 percent, but it declined by 15 percent among young people under the age of 25. The fastest relative increase compared to one year previously was recorded in the sectors public administration (16 percent) and health care and welfare (14 percent). The sectors construction (20 percent) and temp agencies (11 percent) showed a sharp decline.

Considerably more people moved from unemployment to employment in 2015

In the first two months of 2015, the Employee Insurance Agency granted 122 thousand new unemployment benefits, 4 percent down from the same period last year; 108 thousand benefits were ended, 3 percent more than one year previously. In the first two months of this year, 53 thousand benefits were ended because people found work, i.e. 8 percent more than in 2014. In the sectors transport and storage and health care and welfare, the number of benefits ended because people found work was 26 percent higher this year than last year. With 44 percent and 42 percent respectively, the number of benefits ended because people found work was below average in the sectors transport and storage and health care and welfare. Nearly half of all benefits ended this year were stopped because people found work.