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.
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 indicator (ILO)|
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
|WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)|
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.
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.