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.
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.
|Year||Month||Unemployment indicator (ILO)|
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
|WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)|
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.
|Land||Unemployment rate, 15 to 75 yrs, March 2019 (%)|
|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.
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.