Over 9 million in work for the first time

Between October and December 2019, the number of people in paid employment grew by an average of 17 thousand per month, reaching a total that exceeded 9 million for the first time. Unemployment fell by 7 thousand per month on average to a total of 302 thousand in December. These were people who did not have paid work and who indicated they had recently looked and were immediately available for work. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures. At the end of December, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 223 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

Around 4.0 million people did not have paid work in December 2019 for a variety of reasons. In addition to the unemployed mentioned earlier, this included 3.7 million people who had not looked or/nor were immediately available recently. They are not counted towards the labour force. Their number dropped by an average of 1 thousand per month over the previous three months.

Unemployment indicator

In order to enable a comparison of cyclical movements in the labour market between different countries, the unemployment indicator of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is often taken as a measure. According to this indicator, the ‘unemployed’ include 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 December, unemployment stood at 302 thousand. This brought the total number of unemployed at the end of the year to approximately the same level as at the beginning of Q2 2019, despite a slight increase over Q2 and Q3. The unemployment rate was back to the same level as well; in December it stood at 3.2 percent against 3.3 percent in April and May. In the intervening months, unemployment did increase to 3.5 percent.

The lower unemployment rate in December as compared to April/May – despite the virtually unchanged number of unemployed – can be explained the growing size of the labour force.

Unemployment and unemployment benefits
   Unemployment indicator (ILO)
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)
2011January430284
2011February 425280
2011March413270
2011April411261
2011May414256
2011June409252
2011July425254
2011August 427256
2011September442252
2011October458253
2011November474258
2011December473270
2012January486292
2012February 482299
2012March487296
2012April502292
2012May501291
2012June502291
2012July518298
2012August 517304
2012September530304
2012October539310
2012November554322
2012December572340
2013January589369
2013February 601377
2013March619380
2013April625380
2013May632378
2013June648382
2013July666395
2013August 670399
2013September675400
2013October680408
2013November677419
2013December687438
2014January691460
2014February 699460
2014March692454
2014April684443
2014May672436
2014June656431
2014July648437
2014August 637430
2014September630420
2014October632419
2014November635425
2014December643441
2015January645458
2015February 633455
2015March626443
2015April625427
2015May617416
2015June611410
2015July603420
2015August 604420
2015September609417
2015October616421
2015November596427
2015December588446
2016January574465
2016February 581469
2016March574470
2016April572461
2016May560448
2016June550438
2016July541432
2016August 521427
2016September510424
2016October502420
2016November499410
2016December482412
2017January480419
2017February 473416
2017March463415
2017April456401
2017May456386
2017June446372
2017July436364
2017August 426362
2017September422351
2017October404343
2017November397337
2017December395330
2018January380335
2018February 367330
2018March357327
2018April355314
2018May352301
2018June354288
2018July348279
2018August 353278
2018September343274
2018October337269
2018November326267
2018December329263
2019January329279
2019February 312274
2019March307268
2019April300257
2019May302251
2019June313243
2019July313234
2019August 321237
2019September323233
2019October323233
2019November324228
2019December302223

UWV: Continued decline in unemployment benefits

At the end of December 2019, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 223 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits. The number dropped by 1.9 percent on the previous month (228 thousand). By the end of 2018, the number of unemployment benefits still stood at 263 thousand. This represents a year-on-year decline of 15 percent. The number of WW benefits fell across all occupational groups. The largest decrease was seen in agricultural occupations (-21 percent), care and welfare occupations (-19.1 percent) and pedagogical occupations (-18.2 percent).

UWV: Sharp decline in number of benefits among over-50s

Relative to one year previously, the number of WW benefits among people aged 50 and over declined by over 20 percent. In December 2019, close to 46 percent of all WW benefits issued by UWV were received by people in this age group. This share was 49 percent one year previously. The main contributing factors were improved labour market conditions (with more jobseekers able to land a job) and the stepwise reduction in the duration of WW benefits to a maximum of 24 months.

Employment rose, unemployment declined

Since Q1 2014, the number of employed has risen almost continuously. This coincided with a long period of decline in unemployment, but this was interrupted by a slight increase in unemployment in Q2 and Q3. The main contributing factor were people seeking work who had previously not been active on the labour market. Those who were not immediately able to find work were thus included in the unemployment figures. This trend changed at the end of 2019: More people who entered the labour market were able to start immediately and fewer people became unemployed.

Unused labour potential

Every month, CBS publishes figures on the total employed and non-employed population. The latter group comprises the unemployed workforce and those not included in the workforce (all according to the ILO definition).

However, the unemployed labour force does not cover total unused labour potential; other groups are included as well, aside from the unemployed according to the ILO indicator. These are people who 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.

CBS reports on these groups quarterly in terms of their size and composition. The overall picture represented here (see figure below) is based on the latest quarterly figures (Q3 2019). The total unused labour potential in Q3 2019 comprised nearly 1.0 million people, i.e. 120 thousand fewer than one year previously. The development of the total unused labour potential is closely related to the development of 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 are not directly comparable with the CBS labour force indicators.

Sources

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