By no means every employed person who stopped working became an unemployed. In March, relatively many stopped working but were not looking and/or immediately available again. As a result, the unemployment rate in March remained the same at 2.9 percent. Over the previous three months, unemployment declined by 10 thousand per month on average, due to substantial decreases in January and February. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of newly released figures.
In March, there were 9.0 million people in work. Altogether 4.0 million people were not in paid work for various reasons. In addition to the 273 thousand unemployed, 3.8 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 11 thousand per month over the previous three months. It is very likely that this decrease is related to the government measures taken in March against the spread of coronavirus.
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 273 thousand unemployed in March, equivalent to 2.9 percent of the labour force. This is the same percentage as in February.
The unemployment rate shows how many people have looked for work recently and are immediately available for work. In order to describe developments in the labour supply, other indicators are also important, such as the number of WW benefits and changes in the labour market (job gains and job losses), which possibly show changes faster.
|Unemployment indicator (ILO)|
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
|WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)|
UWV: Number of WW benefits up in March
At the end of March, UWV recorded 250 thousand current WW benefits. This is 10 thousand more than in February (+4.3 percent). Year-on-year, the number of WW benefits was down by 6.5 percent.
UWV: Substantial increase in new WW benefits
In March, there was a sharp increase in the number of WW benefits compared to February. UWV provided 38 thousand new WW benefits that month. This is 11 thousand more than in February, i.e. an increase of 42.3 percent. The number of new WW benefits rose substantially among young people (under the age of 25) in particular (+185 percent). In March, the majority of sectors recorded an increase in new WW benefits compared to February. An above-average increase was seen in accommodation and food services (+224 percent), temporary employment (+143 percent) and culture (+94 percent). The accommodation and food services sector and culture sector are severely affected by the measures taken by government against the spread of coronavirus.
More job losses
In March, 283 thousand people were out of work who were still in paid work last December (three months previously). This means there were more job losses in March than over January and February, when this number was still 259 thousand. The increase in job losses was mainly due to a higher outflow of people from the employed labour force to the non-labour force. These people were not looking or/nor immediately available for work. Among those losing their jobs in March, 222 thousand entered the non-labour force while 61 thousand became unemployed and were therefore both looking and available for work.
|From employment to unemployment (x 1,000)||From employment to non-labour force (x 1,000)|
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 (as according to the ILO definition).
However, the unemployed labour force does not represent the total 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 the 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 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.