Unemployment rate down to 3.0 percent
In January 2020, there were 4.0 million people in January 2020 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 were immediately available for work recently. These people are not counted towards the labour force. Their number remained the same 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 January 2020, there were 284 thousand unemployed. For the first time since 2003 - the first year for which monthly figures are available - this number fell below 300 thousand. The previous record low based on monthly figures was reached in April 2019. Subsequently, unemployment increased slightly before declining again in December and January. With 3.0 percent of the labour force, the unemployment rate has never been this low since compilation of monthly figures started.
|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: More unemployment benefits in January
At the end of January, UWV provided 241 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits. This is 37.6 thousand less than one year previously (-13.5 percent). Relative to the previous month, the number of WW benefits was up by 18 thousand (+8.1 percent). An increase in the number of WW benefits in January is an annually recurring seasonal pattern. For example, many contracts have expired by the start of the year, and certain activities are periodically halted or reduced in this season, in agriculture and construction for instance.
One person may be entitled to more than one WW benefit at the same time. At the end of January 2020, 236 thousand persons received at least one WW benefit. Of this group, 21.2 percent have been WW recipients for over a year.
Further decline in unemployment among the over-45s
Unemployment among the over-45s declined to 2.1 percent in January. The share of unemployed persons over the age of 45 in the labour force continued to decline over the past three months. Over the course of 2019, unemployment increased slightly among the youngest group and the 25 to 44-year-olds. However, it dropped again recently for both groups to reach rates of 6.4 and 2.7 percent respectively in January. This is almost equivalent to the level of early 2019.
|January 2019 (% of the labour force)||April 2019 (% of the labour force)||July 2019 (% of the labour force)||October 2019 (% of the labour force)||January 2020 (% of the labour force)|
|15 to 24 yrs||6.5||6.2||6.7||7.3||6.4|
|25 to 44 yrs||2.7||2.6||2.8||2.9||2.7|
|45 to 74 yrs||3.3||2.8||2.7||2.6||2.1|
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 (Q4 2019). The total unused labour potential in Q4 2019 comprised nearly 982 thousand people, 57 thousand less than 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.
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