Unemployment rate further down to 2.9 percent in February

© Hollandse Hoogte / Westend61 GmbH
Between November 2019 and February 2020, the number of people in paid employment rose by 21 thousand per month on average, ending at 9.1 million in February. Unemployment fell over the same period by an average of 17 thousand per month to 274 thousand. These were people who did not have paid work and who indicated they had recently looked and were immediately available for work. In February 2020, the unemployment rate stood at 2.9 percent. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures. At the end of February, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 240 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

The most recent figures from CBS and UWV are related to the month of February. That month, the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on society was still limited.

There were 4.0 million people in February 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 rose by an average of 2 thousand per month over the previous three months.

Unemployment indicator

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. There were 274 thousand unemployed in February, equivalent to 2.9 percent of the labour force. For the first time since 2003 - the first year for which monthly figures are available - this percentage is below 3.0.

Unemployment and unemployment benefits (x 1,000)
   Unemployment indicator (ILO)
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted)
WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age)
2012January486292
February482299
March487296
April502292
May501291
June502291
July518298
August517304
September530304
October539310
November554322
December572340
2013January589369
February601377
March619380
April625380
May632378
June648382
July666395
August670399
September675400
October680408
November677419
December687438
2014January691460
February699460
March692454
April684443
May672436
June656431
July648437
August637430
September630420
October632419
November635425
December643441
2015January645458
February633455
March626443
April625427
May617416
June611410
July603420
August604420
September609417
October616421
November596427
December588446
2016January574465
February581469
March574470
April572461
May560448
June550438
July541432
August521427
September510424
October502420
November499410
December482412
2017January480419
February473416
March463415
April456401
May456386
June446372
July436364
August426362
September422351
October404343
November397337
December395330
2018January380335
February367330
March357327
April355314
May352301
June354288
July348279
August353278
September343274
October337269
November326267
December329263
2019January329279
February312274
March307268
April300257
May302251
June313243
July313234
August321237
September323233
October323233
November324228
December302223
2020January284241
February274240

UWV: Fewer unemployment benefits in February

At the end of February, UWV provided 240 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits. This is 33.4 thousand less than one year previously (-12.2 percent). Relative to the previous month, the number of WW benefits was down by 1.3 thousand (-0.5 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 (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.

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

Part of WW benefit, income support or disability benefit recipients have paid work
Not everyone who is unemployed according to the definition receives an unemployment benefit. Conversely, not all unemployment benefit recipients are counted as unemployed. A part of the WW benefit, income support or disability benefit recipients also have paid work; their benefit is supplementary.

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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