Labour market recovery continues more slowly

The recovery of the Dutch labour market continued in the first quarter of 2015 albeit somewhat slower. There was a job increase of 6 thousand, reaching 9.8 million, plus another 40 thousand jobs in the last quarter of 2014. Unemployment was down by 2 thousand on the previous quarter, reaching 635 thousand, or 7.1 percent of the employed labour force. Young people in particular found work. Long-term unemployment increased slightly among the over 45s according to the figures released by Statistics Netherlands today.

More jobs, fewer working hours

The number of jobs of employees and self-employed people (full-time as well as part-time) increased by 6 thousand in the first quarter of 2015, reaching 9.8 million. This is a net increase of 0.1 percent. This is the fourth consecutive quarter in which the job market continued to grow, seeing job numbers increase by 65 thousand in total. However, some 200 thousand jobs were lost in the nine quarters before that, so that job numbers are still below the level of December 2011.

Although jobs increased slightly in number, the total volume of work decreased slightly. The Dutch population worked 3.1 billion hours in the first quarter, averaging 24 hours a week per job. Because a substantial number of people have more than one job, the average working person worked 27 hours a week.

The total number of hours worked fell by 0.6 percent on the previous quarter (adjusted for seasonal influences). In the second, third and fourth quarters of 2014 the total number of hours still increased.

Developments on the Dutch job market, seasonally adjusted

No increase in the number of employee jobs

The number of jobs by employees in the first quarter remained stable compared to the fourth quarter of 2014 stable at 7.8 million. This is still 300 thousand fewer than at the record high at the end of 2008. At the end of 2014 jobs of employees increased by over 30 thousand.

There were 6 thousand more jobs of self-employed people, reaching 2.1 million. This is 175 thousand more than six years ago which makes one in five jobs a self-employed job.

More temps at work

Just like in previous quarters, it was the temp workers who contributed primarily to job growth. The number of temp jobs increased by 13 thousand in the fourth quarter, which brought growth to 52 thousand in a single year. Employment recovered mainly in trade, transport and hotels and restaurants, where over 7 thousand jobs and over 2 thousand vacancies were added.
In business services (exclusively temp jobs) employment rose by 5 thousand jobs. Growth was down on the previous quarter in all branches.

The only exception was construction, where the number of jobs in the previous quarter fell by a thousand, which is the most positive figure in the branch for nearly four years. Construction has been hit hardest by the economic crisis of 2008, with job losses over 110 thousand. These were mainly jobs of employees, but there was a downturn in the number of self-employed jobs as well.

Fewer jobs in care

There has been a downward trend in the jobs in care for over two years, with job losses up to 65 thousand or 4 percent of all available jobs in the sector. Job losses in home care, nursing homes, care for the disabled and child care far exceeded those in health care.

Labour force larger, unemployment down

The total Dutch labour force, both employed and unemployed, had increased on the fourth quarter of 2014, mainly because more young people started to work. It is the first time in five quarters that the number of people who cannot work because they are studying is smaller than in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Some 635 thousand were unemployed in the first quarter of 2015, down 2 thousand on the previous quarter. Despite this small difference, many people faced a change in their position on the job market: 134 thousand unemployed people found jobs while 107 thousand people lost their jobs. More people entered the job market in vain than there were people who withdrew: 200 thousand people became available for jobs and went job hunting whereas 174 thousand unemployed people left the labour market. On balance unemployment fell slightly.

Slight increase in long-term unemployment

In the first quarter 44 percent of all unemployed people had been jobless for more than a year, compared to 43 percent the quarter before. Long-term unemployment increased substantially in 2014, up from 32 percent. People over 45 were most often unemployed long-term; over 60 percent had been unemployed for over a year in the first quarter, and their share is rising.
Less well educated people and people with a non-western background are over-represented among the long-term unemployed. 

More people employed

The unemployed labour force of 8.3 million people had increased by 16 thousand on the previous quarter. As some people have more than one job, the number of jobs is higher than the number of people at work.
The employed labour force grew by 34 thousand in the third and by 43 thousand in the fourth quarter of 2014, mainly through people working more than 12 hours a week.

Half work part-time

Slightly over worked full-time, or over 35 hours or more a week. Mainly men aged 25-65. Three quarters of the women work part-time, often because of care. Small jobs of less than 12 hours a week are mainly the domain of students and over 65s.

From tenured to flex

Since 2008 the number of employees on a permanent contract has fallen by over half a million. This decrease stopped  in 2014. Employees with a flexible contract has been on the rise for years as did the number of self-employed
Self-employed numbers reached over a million by the first quarter of 2015 after an annual increase of 35 thousand a year in the last decade. Most self-employed sell their own labour. They are often highly educated people over 45 working in specialist business services and health care.

Less educated self-employed tend to work in construction. Self-employed who mainly sell products or raw materials mainly work in trade and agriculture.

Vacancies continues to grow

By the end of March there were 125 vacancies in the Netherlands, up 6 thousand on the previous quarter and 20 thousand on the previous year. Vacancies have been on the increase for seven quarters, but their number is barely half of the record numbers of 2007 and 2008.

In the first quarter of 2015 there were 195 thousand new vacancies, while 189 thousand were filled. This is the highest number in three and a half years. The number of vacancies rose pretty much across the board.

Five unemployed people and one vacancy

By the end of March there were five times as many unemployed people as there were vacancies. In 2013 this was seven times as many, and in2008 it as fifty/fifty. The crisis caused an increase in unemployment, halving the number of vacancies, reducing the tension on the labour market.