Unemployment falls further to 300 thousand

© Hollandse Hoogte
In the period February through April 2019, the number of people aged 15 to 74 in paid employment grew by 11 thousand per month on average. There were 8.9 million people in work in April. Unemployment declined by an average of 10 thousand per month to 300 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. At the end of April, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 257 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

There were 4.1 million people who did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. In addition to the unemployed mentioned earlier, 3.8 million people had not looked or/nor been immediately available for work recently. These people are not counted towards the labour force. Their number increased by 7 thousand per month on average over the previous three months.

Unemployment indicator

In order to enable comparison of cyclical movements 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 300 thousand unemployed in April, equivalent to 3.3 percent of the labour force. This was 3.5 percent at the end of 2018, less than the lowest pre-crisis level on record for the first time.

Unemployment (ILO indicator, seasonally adjusted) and unemployment benefits
YearMonthUnemployment indicator (ILO)
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)
2011January430284
2011February425280
2011March413270
2011April411261
2011May414256
2011June409252
2011July425254
2011August427256
2011September442252
2011October458253
2011November474258
2011December473270
2012January486292
2012February482299
2012March487296
2012April502292
2012May501291
2012June502291
2012July518298
2012August517304
2012September530304
2012October539310
2012November554322
2012December572340
2013January589369
2013February601377
2013March619380
2013April625380
2013May632378
2013June648382
2013July666395
2013August670399
2013September675400
2013October680408
2013November677419
2013December687438
2014January691460
2014February699460
2014March692454
2014April684443
2014May672436
2014June656431
2014July648437
2014August637430
2014September630420
2014October632419
2014November635425
2014December643441
2015January645458
2015February633455
2015March626443
2015April625427
2015May617416
2015June611410
2015July603420
2015August604420
2015September609417
2015October616421
2015November596427
2015December588446
2016January574465
2016February581469
2016March574470
2016April572461
2016May560448
2016June550438
2016July541432
2016August521427
2016September510424
2016October502420
2016November499410
2016December482412
2017January480419
2017February473416
2017March463415
2017April456401
2017May456386
2017June446372
2017July436364
2017August426362
2017September422351
2017October404343
2017November397337
2017December395330
2018January380335
2018February367330
2018March357327
2018April355314
2018May352301
2018June354288
2018July348279
2018August353278
2018September343274
2018October337269
2018November326267
2018December329263
2019January329279
2019February312274
2019March307268
2019April300257

UWV: number of WW benefits falls below level at end of 2018 again

At the end of April, UWV provided 257 thousand unemployment benefits. The number of WW benefits has been falling for three consecutive months; currently nearly 4 percent below its level at end-March 2019 and down by 18 percent on end-April 2018. After a rise in January, the number of benefits has dropped below its level at end-2018, when the number of current benefits stood at 263 thousand.

UWV: seasons affect number of WW benefits

Seasons affect the number of WW benefits. Employment is usually up again after the winter in seasonally sensitive sectors such as construction and agriculture. Accordingly, the number of WW benefits in these sectors dropped by 11 percent (agriculture) and by 7 percent (construction) in April relative to the previous month. Temp agencies saw the number of benefits decline by 9 percent during the same period.

The Netherlands in third place within the EU

In March, the unemployment rate in the Netherlands remained 3.3 percent. This means that the Netherlands ranks among the top three of EU countries with the lowest unemployment. The share of unemployed was lower only in the Czech Republic and Germany. The highest rates were recorded in Spain and Greece, at 14.0 and 18.5 percent of the labour force respectively. In the Netherlands, unemployment peaked at the start of 2014. It amounted to 7.8 percent in March 2014, putting the Netherlands in tenth place within the EU-28.

Unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted), 15 to 74 yrs, March 2019
LandUnemployment rate, 15 to 75 yrs, March 2019 (%)
Greece*18.5
Spain14.0
Italy10.2
France8.8
Croatia7.4
Latvia7.1
Cyprus7.0
Sweden6.7
Finland6.6
Portugal6.4
European Union6.4
Lithuania5.8
Belgium5.7
Slovakia5.7
Luxembourg5.5
Denmark5.3
Austria4.8
Ireland4.7
Bulgaria4.6
Estonia**4.6
Slovenia4.4
Romania3.8
United Kingdom*3.8
Malta3.5
Poland3.4
Hungary**3.4
Netherlands 3.3
Germany3.2
Czech Republic1.9
Source: CBS, Eurostat
* January ** February

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 (Q1 2019). The total unused labour potential in Q1 2019 comprised 1.1 million people. This was still 1.2 million one year previously. Development of the total unused labour potential closely follows developments in unemployment.

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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