Employment continues to rise

Between February and April 2018, the number of people aged 15 to 74 in paid employment grew by an average of 15 thousand per month. There were over 8.7 million people in work in April. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on new figures. More than 4.2 million people did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. This included 355 thousand people who indicated they had recently looked and had been immediately available for work. According to the ILO definition, these are the unemployed. Their number fell by an average 8 thousand per month over the previous three months. As a result, the unemployment rate in the Dutch labour force stood at 3.9 in April.

The remainder of the group not in employment (over 3.8 million) had not looked or/nor been immediately available for work recently. Their number dropped by an average 2 thousand per month over the previous three months. At the end of April, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 314 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

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355 thousand unemployed according to ILO definition

In order to enable comparison of cyclical developments in the labour market between countries, the unemployment indicator of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is often taken as a measure. According to this indicator, the ‘unemployed’ includes all 15 to 74-year-olds who do not have paid work but who have been looking for paid work recently and who are immediately available. There were 355 thousand unemployed in April, equivalent to 3.9 percent of the labour force. This is the same percentage as in the previous month. The number of unemployed has been falling almost continuously for four years. In April 2018, there were 562 thousand more people in work than in March 2014, when the number of people in work reached its lowest point.

Unemployment indicator (ILO) and unemployment benefits, seasonally adjusted
   Unemployment indicator (ILO)
(15-74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
Unemployment benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)
2011j430284
2011f425280
2011m413270
2011a411261
2011m414256
2011j409252
2011j425254
2011a427256
2011s442252
2011o458253
2011n474258
2011d473270
2012j486292
2012f482299
2012m487296
2012a502292
2012m501291
2012j502291
2012j518298
2012a517304
2012s530304
2012o539310
2012n554322
2012d572340
2013j589369
2013f601377
2013m619380
2013a625380
2013m632378
2013j648382
2013j666395
2013a670399
2013s675400
2013o680408
2013n677419
2013d687438
2014j691460
2014f699460
2014m692454
2014a684443
2014m672436
2014j656431
2014j648437
2014a637430
2014s630420
2014o632419
2014n635425
2014d643441
2015j645458
2015f633455
2015m626443
2015a625427
2015m617416
2015j611410
2015j603420
2015a604420
2015s609417
2015o616421
2015n596427
2015d588446
2016j574465
2016f581469
2016m574470
2016a572461
2016m560448
2016j550438
2016j541432
2016a521427
2016s510424
2016o502420
2016n499410
2016d482412
2017j480419
2017f473416
2017m463415
2017a456401
2017m456386
2017j446372
2017j436364
2017a426362
2017s422351
2017o404343
2017n397337
2017d395330
2018j380335
2018f367330
2018m357327
2018a355314
Source: CBS, UWV

At the end of April, UWV provided 314 thousand current WW benefits. This represents a decline of almost 13 thousand benefits relative to March (-3.9 percent) and a decline of over 87 thousand year-on-year (-21.7 percent). The year-on-year decline was strongest in technical and transport occupations (-30 percent).
In the first four months of 2018, UWV provided 123 thousand new unemployment benefits, a decrease of 17.0 percent compared to one year previously. Relative to the first four months of 2017, the number of employment benefits declined in all occupational classes.

Fewer people not in work

The unemployment rate does not include all people who are not in paid employment. Over 4.2 million 15 to 74-year-olds are not in work, which is considerably less than in March 2014, when the number peaked at over 4.5 million. The percentage of people not in work therefore declined. The rate stood at 35.6 percent over four years ago, versus 32.5 percent last month. This is still above the pre-crisis level of slightly under 32 percent.

Unused labour potential

Every month, CBS publishes figures on the size of the employed labour force and the non-employed population. The latter group comprises the unemployed labour force as well as people not included in the labour force (all these groups follow ILO definitions). However, the unemployed labour force does not represent all unused labour potential. According to the ILO indicator, this includes other groups of people aside from the unemployed. These people have either looked for work recently or are immediately available for work. They are counted towards unused labour potential but fall outside the scope of the ILO definition of employment. People who work part-time but want to work more hours and are immediately available are also included in the unused labour potential.

These groups are only reported on every quarter in terms of size and composition. The overall picture provided in the table below is based on the latest quarterly figures (Q1 2018). The total unused labour potential in Q1 2018 comprised more than 1.2 million people. This was over 1.4 million one year previously. Development of the total unused labour potential closely follows developments in unemployment according to the ILO definition.



Every month, CBS publishes figures on the labour force in accordance with international guidelines. The corresponding indicators, i.e. the employed and unemployed labour force, are used around the world to describe cyclical developments on the labour market. Monthly figures are essential in this respect. In addition, UWV issues its own monthly figures on unemployment benefits. Figures released by UWV do not correspond one-to-one with the labour force indicators.

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