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