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)
2011 j430284
2011 f425280
2011 m413270
2011 a411261
2011 m414256
2011 j409252
2011 j425254
2011 a427256
2011 s442252
2011 o458253
2011 n474258
2011 d473270
2012 j486292
2012 f482299
2012 m487296
2012 a502292
2012 m501291
2012 j502291
2012 j518298
2012 a517304
2012 s530304
2012 o539310
2012 n554322
2012 d572340
2013 j589369
2013 f601377
2013 m619380
2013 a625380
2013 m632378
2013 j648382
2013 j666395
2013 a670399
2013 s675400
2013 o680408
2013 n677419
2013 d687438
2014 j691460
2014 f699460
2014 m692454
2014 a684443
2014 m672436
2014 j656431
2014 j648437
2014 a637430
2014 s630420
2014 o632419
2014 n635425
2014 d643441
2015 j645458
2015 f633455
2015 m626443
2015 a625427
2015 m617416
2015 j611410
2015 j603420
2015 a604420
2015 s609417
2015 o616421
2015 n596427
2015 d588446
2016 j574465
2016 f581469
2016 m574470
2016 a572461
2016 m560448
2016 j550438
2016 j541432
2016 a521427
2016 s510424
2016 o502420
2016 n499410
2016 d482412
2017 j480419
2017 f473416
2017 m463415
2017 a456401
2017 m456386
2017 j446372
2017 j436364
2017 a426362
2017 s422351
2017 o404343
2017 n397337
2017 d395330
2018 j380335
2018 f367330
2018 m357327
2018 a355314
2018 m352301
2018 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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