Unemployment drops below half a million

For the first time since early 2012, unemployment has fallen to below half a million again. The number of unemployed stood at 499 thousand in November, representing 5.6 percent of the labour force. According to figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the drop over the past three months has been slightly below the level of the past summer, with an average decline of 7 thousand per month. At the end of November, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) paid 410 thousand unemployment benefits.

Although the number of people in work continued to rise, this growth was less pronounced as well, levelling off especially among employed people over age 45. As a result, the significant drop in the number of older unemployed that was seen in recent months did not follow through.

Unemployed and unemployment benefits

UWV: Benefit payments fall sharply, mostly in younger population

At the end of November, UWV paid 410 thousand current unemployment benefits, down by 10 thousand (-2.4 percent) on October. The decline was most significant among young adults under 25 (-4.3 percent). The falling trend also continued in the over-50 age group. For the first time since June 2015, the number of benefits provided to unemployed over-50s fell below 200 thousand.

Considering each individual sector, the decline in November was most substantial in education (-7.6 percent) and in construction (-6.7 percent). The number of benefits rose modestly in seasonal sectors such as hotels and restaurants and agriculture.

Construction, care sectors record fewer new benefits

Up until 1 December 2016, UWV granted 443 thousand new unemployment benefits, a decline of 79 thousand (-15.1 percent) relative to the same period last year. This year, the number of new benefits is down in all sectors except in wholesale trade (26 percent). The biggest drop in number of new benefits is in the sectors construction (-32.8 percent) and health care and welfare (-24.9 percent).

Unemployment declines less sharply among over-45s

In November, as in October, 5.6 percent of the Dutch labour force were unemployed. The six months prior to October showed a continually declining unemployment rate. This decline was particularly strong among the older age group. Over the past two months, the unemploment rate has been stuck at 5.1 among the over-45s. For 25 to 45-year-olds, it remained at the same level (4,3) while among the younger age group, the unemployment rate did decline, from 10.5 in October to 10.3 in November.

Rate of unemployment (seas. adjusted) by age

More people in employment

There are 12.8 million people aged 15 to 74 years in the Netherlands. In November, 66.1 percent had paid work, nearly equivalent to 8.5 million people including around 4.6 million men and 3.9 million women. In de afgelopen drie maanden is het aantal mensen met betaald werk met gemiddeld 11 duizend per maand gegroeid.

Among the group aged 15 to 74 years, more than 4.3 million do not have paid employment. Of this group, 499 thousand are unemployed while 3.8 million are either not looking or not immediately available for work. In the latter group, women form the majority with 2.2 million.

Unemployment decline slowing

The decline in unemployment has slowed down over the past three months. Compared to previous months, more people have entered the labour market than left. In addition, they have more difficulty finding a job than in previous months.

Total labour supply (employed plus unemployed) has grown slightly over the past three months.

Labour market flows