Unemployment at 3.9 percent for fourth month in a row

Between April and June 2018, the number of people aged 15 to 74 in paid employment grew by an average of 17 thousand per month. There were close to 8.8 million people in work in June. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on new figures. Nearly 4.2 million people did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. This included 354 thousand people who indicated they had recently looked and were immediately available for work. These are the unemployed according to the definition of the International Labour Organization (ILO). On average, their number fell by one thousand per month between April and June. As a result, the unemployment rate in the Dutch labour force stood at 3.9 in June, just as in the previous three months.

The remainder of the group of people not in employment (over 3.8 million) had not looked or/nor been immediately available for work recently. Their number dropped by an average 11 thousand per month between April and June. At the end of June, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 288 thousand unemployment (WW) benefits.

354 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 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 354 thousand unemployed in June, equivalent to 3.9 percent of the labour force. This percentage has been the same for four months running. This means that unemployment is still higher than its lowest point before the start of the economic crisis in the second half of 2008, when the unemployment rate was 3.6 percent.

Unemployment indicator (ILO) and unemployment benefits (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
m352301
j354288
Source: CBS, UWV

UWV: 288 thousand WW benefits

At the end of June, UWV provided 288 thousand unemployment (WW) benefits. Relative to the previous month, the number of WW benefits fell by 13 thousand (-4.3 percent). When compared to June 2017, a decline was recorded of over 84 thousand (-22.6 percent). The number of unemployment benefits decreased in all occupational classes compared to one year ago. The decrease was strongest in technical occupations (-30.5 percent) and in transport and logistics (-30.6 percent).

The number of WW benefits is falling because of fewer applications and because benefit recipients leave the WW benefit system, when they find work for example. Unemployment inflow and outflow are especially dynamic. In the first six months of 2018, UWV provided 172 thousand new unemployment benefits; 214 thousand benefits were terminated. This represents a decline in inflow of 17.4 percent and a decline in outflow of 13.7 percent relative to the same period last year.

UWV: Long-term WW benefits most common among the over-50s

A person may receive more than one WW benefit. At the end of June, 278 people received one or more unemployment benefits. Nearly 94 thousand people receive a WW benefit for one year or longer. Long-term WW benefit dependency is most prevalent among people aged 50 and over. Nearly eight in ten long-term WW benefit recipients are 50 years of age or older.

Fewer unemployed stop searching for work

The number of unemployed rose marginally in June compared to the previous month. Between April and June, however, unemployment dropped slightly by one thousand per month on average. This means unemployment is falling less substantially than previously. This is not because more people in employment lost their jobs, but because there were fewer unemployed who stopped looking for work and left the labour market.

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 the ILO definition). 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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