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