Employment rate virtually the same for six months

Between June and August 2018, the number of people aged 15 to 74 in paid employment grew by an average of 20 thousand per month. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that total employment reached 8.8 million in August, as indicated by the latest figures. More than 4.1 million people did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. This included 353 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 remained almost the same over the previous three months. As a result, the unemployment rate in the Dutch labour force stood at 3.9 in August. This has been virtually the same for six months.

The remainder of the group not in employment (nearly 3.8 million) had not looked or/nor been immediately available for work recently. Their number dropped by an average 16 thousand per month between June and August. At the end of August, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 278 thousand unemployment (WW) benefits.

Unemployment indicator

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 353 thousand unemployed in August, equivalent to 3.9 percent of the labour force.

Unemployment (ILO indicator, seasonally adjusted) and unemployment benefits (x 1,000)
 Unemployment indicator (ILO)
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted)
Unemployment benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age)
2011 January430284
2011 February425280
2011 March413270
2011 April411261
2011 May414256
2011 June409252
2011 July425254
2011 August427256
2011 September442252
2011 October458253
2011 November474258
2011 December473270
2012 January486292
2012 February482299
2012 March487296
2012 April502292
2012 May501291
2012 June502291
2012 July518298
2012 August517304
2012 September530304
2012 October539310
2012 November554322
2012 December572340
2013 January589369
2013 February601377
2013 March619380
2013 April625380
2013 May632378
2013 June648382
2013 July666395
2013 August670399
2013 September675400
2013 October680408
2013 November677419
2013 December687438
2014 January691460
2014 February699460
2014 March692454
2014 April684443
2014 May672436
2014 June656431
2014 July648437
2014 August637430
2014 September630420
2014 October632419
2014 November635425
2014 December643441
2015 January645458
2015 February633455
2015 March626443
2015 April625427
2015 May617416
2015 June611410
2015 July603420
2015 August604420
2015 September609417
2015 October616421
2015 November596427
2015 December588446
2016 January574465
2016 February581469
2016 March574470
2016 April572461
2016 May560448
2016 June550438
2016 July541432
2016 August521427
2016 September510424
2016 October502420
2016 November499410
2016 December482412
2017 January480419
2017 February473416
2017 March463415
2017 April456401
2017 May456386
2017 June446372
2017 July436364
2017 August426362
2017 September422351
2017 October404343
2017 November397337
2017 December395330
2018 January380335
2018 February367330
2018 March357327
2018 April355314
2018 May352301
2018 June354288
2018 July348279
2018 August353278

UWV: 278 thousand WW benefits

At the end of August, UWV provided 278 thousand unemployment (WW) benefits, less by over a thousand on the previous month; compared to August 2017, a decline of 84 thousand (-23.2 percent). At the end of August 2018, there were 269 thousand recipients of one or more unemployment benefits.

UWV: both inflow and outflow are down

In the period from January to August 2018, UWV provided 230 thousand new unemployment benefits and terminated 282 thousand benefits. This represents a decline in inflow of 16.7 percent and a decline in outflow of 13.6 percent relative to the same period last year.

Benefit outflow falling in particular

The number of unemployed has been falling since the beginning of 2014. The decline became progressively less substantial in 2018. The average number of unemployed has remained stable over the previous three months. The change in number of unemployed is the balance of four different flows. People may become unemployed when they lose their job but also when they start looking for a job, for example school leavers or people rejoining the labour market. The group of unemployed may also become smaller as people find work or leave the labour market.

The number of unemployed who find a job has dropped. There are also fewer unemployed who leave the labour market. As a result, the outflow of unemployed is almost equal to the inflow. On the one hand, these are people in work who have lost their job; on the other hand, people not in work who start looking for a job.

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 (April to June 2018). Development of the total unused labour potential closely follows developments in unemployment according to the ILO definition. The total unused labour potential dropped from 1.8 million people in Q1 2014 to over 1.1 million in Q2 2018. More than three-quarters have a lower or intermediate education level.

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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