There were 4.1 million people in September 2019 who did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. In addition to the unemployed, 3.7 million people had not looked or/nor been immediately available for work recently. These people are not counted towards the labour force. Their number dropped by an average of 2 thousand per month 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. In September, there were 323 thousand unemployed, i.e. 3.5 percent of the labour force.
|Year||Month||Unemployment indicator (ILO)|
(15-74 yrs, seasonally adjusted)
|WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age)|
UWV: number of unemployment benefits down again
After a slight rise in August, the number of unemployment (WW) benefits declined again as of September. At the end of September 2019, UWV was providing 233 thousand WW benefits. This is 3.2 thousand fewer than in August (-1.4 percent). One person may receive more than one benefit. At the end of September, 228 thousand persons were receiving one or more WW benefits.
UWV: sharp drop in long-term WW benefits
Relative to one year previously, the number of current WW benefits was down by 14.7 percent in September (-40.2 thousand). A sharp year-on-year decline was recorded in benefits which had been provided for one to two years (-23.9 percent) as well as two years or more (-51.8 percent). This is partly related to a legislative adjustment of WW benefit accrual and a gradual reduction of the maximum benefit duration, as laid down in the Dutch Work and Security Act (WWZ).
Number of unemployed on the rise
Unemployment stood at 300 thousand in April 2019 and subsequently rose to 323 thousand in September. On the one hand, rising employment is due to more people outside of the active labour force who start looking for work and are unable to start immediately. On the other hand, there are more job losses and unemployed people find a job less rapidly than previously. This means that unemployment inflow is increasing and unemployment outflow is declining.
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 (Q2 2019). The total unused labour potential in Q2 2019 comprised 1.0 million people. This was still 1.1 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.