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

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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