Labour participation up further in January

© Nikki van Toorn (CBS)
In the period November through January, the number of people aged 15 to 74 in paid employment grew by an average of 18 thousand per month. The number of employed stood at nearly 8.9 million at the end of January. Labour participation increased further to 68.6 percent last month. Unemployment declined by an average of 3 thousand per month to 329 thousand. These are people who did not have paid work, and who indicated they had recently looked and had been immediately available for work. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures.

Nearly 4.1 million people did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. In addition to the unemployed mentioned earlier, there were over 3.7 million people who had not looked or/nor been immediately available for work recently. They are not included in the labour force. Their number dropped by an average 11 thousand per month over the previous three months. At the end of January, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 279 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

Unemployment indicator

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 329 thousand unemployed in January, equivalent to 3.6 percent of the labour force. This is the same as in the previous month.

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
2018 September343274
2018 October337269
2018 November326267
2018 December329263
2019 January329279

UWV: Increase in WW benefits due to year-end effect and seasonal influences

Just as in previous years, the number of current WW benefits increased slightly during the first month of this year compared to the previous month. This is because, traditionally, many labour contracts expire at year-end. In addition, there is less economic activity in certain sectors during winter, resulting in lower levels of employment. As a result, the number of WW benefits stood at 279 thousand in January 2019, i.e. an increase of 6.2 percent. Compared to January 2018, however, the total number dropped by 16.7 percent.

Because a person may receive more than one WW benefit, the number of WW benefit recipients had reached 271 thousand by the end of January. More than half of them (54.1 percent) have been receiving a WW benefit for less than six months. Around three in ten recipients (29.0 percent) have been receiving their benefit for over a year.

UWV: Strongest annual decrease seen in construction, care and retail trade

As mentioned earlier, the increased number of current WW benefits in January 2019 is for a large part the result of seasonal effects. Compared to the previous month, the sharpest increase was seen in construction (+22.6 percent), the temp sector (+17.6 percent) and in agriculture, greenery and fisheries (+10.5 percent). Compared to January 2018, however, construction (-29.8 percent) and the temp sector (-20.0 percent) were among the four sectors with the largest decline, together with health and care (-22.3 percent) and retail trade (-21.5 percent).

Labour participation up further

Net labour participation increased to 68.6 percent in January. The percentage share of people aged 15 to 74 years in paid work was never this high. The latest peak in February 2009 showed a labour participation rate of 68.3 percent. Among both young people aged 15 to 24 and the over-45s, the labour participation rate is higher than at the start of 2009. The highest rate is seen among 25 to 44-year-olds, but it has not yet reached the level of early 2009.

Net labour participation rate (seasonally adjusted) (%)
 February 2009March 2014January 2019
15 to 74 yrs68.364.468.6
15 to 24 yrs64.558.165.1
25 to 44 yrs87.582.085.9
45 to 74 yrs54.954.758.8

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 the 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 (Q4 2018). The total unused labour potential in Q4 2018 comprised slightly more than 1.0 million people. This was still over 1.2 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 are not directly comparable with the CBS labour force indicators.

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