More employed in February

© Nikki van Toorn (CBS)
In the period December through February, the number of people aged 15 to 74 in paid employment grew by an average of 13 thousand per month. The number of employed stood at more than 8.9 million at the end of February. Unemployment declined by an average of 5 thousand per month to 312 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 nearly 3.8 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 of 2 thousand per month over the previous three months. At the end of February, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 274 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 312 thousand unemployed in February, approximately the same as in November 2008, just before the crisis. However, the unemployment rate is currently lower: 3.4 percent against 3.6 percent in November 2008. This is because the labour force - the number of unemployed and employed combined - has increased from 8.7 to 9.2 million people. The unemployed now constitute a smaller share.

UWV: Slight decrease in WW benefits

The number of WW benefits stood at 274 thousand in February 2019, i.e. a decrease of 2 percent. In comparison to February 2018, the number dropped by 17 percent.
A person may receive more than one WW benefit at the same time. At the end of February 2019, there were 266 thousand WW benefit recipients, 28.2 percent of whom had been receiving their benefit for over a year.

UWV: Strongest annual decrease seen in construction and in health and welfare

The number of benefits is declining on an annual basis in all sectors. Compared to February 2018, the sharpest drop was seen in construction (-29 percent) and in health and welfare (-23 percent), followed by retail trade (-22 percent), the cleaning sector (-21 percent) and the banking and insurance sector (-20 percent).

The number of WW benefits decreased in all occupational groups relative to one year previously. The groups with the largest decline were education (-22 percent), commerce (-21 percent), technical professions (-21 percent) and the service sector (-21 percent).

Mainly more over-45s in employment

Compared to the beginning of the crisis, the labour force (employed and unemployed combined) grew by 494 thousand on balance. This s mainly due to an increase in the number of employed. The increase was strongest among the over-45s. The number dropped among 25 to 44-year-olds.

The number of women aged 45 to 74 in employment grew most significantly, by 406 thousand, reaching nearly 1.8 million in February 2019. The number of employed men in this age group increased by 334 thousand to 2.2 million. Youth employment increased slightly.

Employed labour force (seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
 February 2019November 2008
15 to 24 yrs691651
25 to 44 yrs18852134
45 to 74 yrs21671833
15 to 24 yrs683623
25 to 44 yrs17221815
45 to 74 yrs17581352

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.

Beroepsbevolking van 15 tot 75 jaar Niet-beroepsbevolking Niet gezocht en niet beschikbaar Wil en/of kan niet werken Wil wel werken Gezocht en niet beschikbaar Beschikbaar en niet gezocht Vanwege weinig resultaat Vanwege andere reden Beroepsbevolking Werkloos (ILO-definitie) Werkzaam Deeltijd Wil meer uren werken, beschikbaar Voltijd

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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