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 (x 1,000)
YearMonthUnemployment indicator (ILO)
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted)
WW 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
September343274
October337269
November326267
December329263
2019January329279
February312274
March307268
April300257

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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