There were 4.1 million people in October 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 8 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 October, there were 323 thousand unemployed. This means that 3.5 percent of the labour force was unemployed.
|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 unemployment benefits has stabilised
At the end of October 2019, UWV provided 233 thousand unemployment (WW) benefits, the same as in September. The number of WW benefits has dropped considerably since the spring of 2016. This sharp decline has come to an end in recent months. One person may receive more than one benefit; at the end of September, 228 thousand persons received one or more WW benefits.
UWV: Fewer WW benefits year-on-year
Relative to one year previously, the number of current WW benefits was down by 13.2 percent in October (-35.5 thousand). This decline is visible across the country: in all labour market regions, the number of WW benefits is down on October last year. In all sectors and occupational classes, the number of WW benefits declined relative to 2018.
Number of employed persons further up
The number of people in paid employment rose further in October. As a result, the number of people in work was 160 thousand up on October 2018. This growth can mainly be attributed to the over-45s (94 thousand). The picture was different last year. In October 2018, there were 200 thousand more people in work compared to October 2017, with a similar increase among employed people in the age groups 25 to 44 years and the over-45s.
Relative to October last year, the number of women in work increased slightly more rapidly than the number of men.
|2019 (x 1,000 )||2018 (x 1,000 )|
15 to 74 yrs
15 to 74 yrs
|45 to 74 yrs||94||91|
|25 to 44 yrs||35||80|
|15 to 25 yrs||30||30|
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 (Q3 2019). The total unused labour potential in Q3 2019 comprised nearly 1.0 million people, down by 120 thousand 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.