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 1 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. Over the previous three months, unemployment declined by 3 thousand per month. There were 302 thousand unemployed in May, 2 thousand more than in April. 3.3 percent of the labour force was unemployed. At the end of 2018, this percentage was below the lowest pre-crisis level on record for the first time.
|Unemployment indicator (ILO)|
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted)
|WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age)|
UWV: 50 thousand fewer WW benefits than one year previously
At the end of May 2019, the UWV provided 251 thousand WW benefits. This number was down by 7 thousand (-2.6 percent) on the previous month. Relative to May 2018, there was a decrease in the number of current unemployment benefits of 50 thousand (-16.7 percent).
The number of current WW benefits declined across all sectors. Construction saw the largest decline relative to one year previously (-30.8 percent). The decline was also substantial in the sector care and welfare (-23.5 percent).
At the end of May 2019, there were 244 thousand recipients of one or more unemployment benefits. 27.6 percent of them received their benefit for one year or more. In May 2018, this share was still one-third.
Labour participation rising less rapidly
The number of employed continues to grow, albeit less rapidly. In the previous three months, there was an increase of 11 thousand per month, versus 16 thousand per month in the first quarter of 2019. As a percentage of the population, 68.7 percent were in work in May, just as in March and April. Labour participation among men has remained virtually unchanged since November last year and amounted to 73.1 percent. Among women, it rose by 0.5 percent over the same period reaching 64.3 percent.
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.