Unemployment rising less rapidly in August

More recent figures are available on this topic. View the latest figures here.
In August 2020, 426 thousand people were unemployed, equivalent to 4.6 percent of the labour force. Unemployment rose by an average of 32 thousand per month over the period June through August. The number of employed people rose as well over these months, by a monthly average of 18 thousand. In July and August, the rise in both employment and unemployment was less significant than in June. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on new figures on the Dutch labour force. At the end of August 2020, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 292 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.
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)
2012Jan 486292
2012Feb 482299
2012Mar 487296
2012Apr 502292
2012June 502291
2012Aug 517304
2012Sep 530304
2012Oct 539310
2012Nov 554322
2012Dec 572340
2013Jan 589369
2013Feb 601377
2013Mar 619380
2013Apr 625380
2013June 648382
2013Aug 670399
2013Sep 675400
2013Oct 680408
2013Nov 677419
2013Dec 687438
2014Jan 691460
2014Feb 699460
2014Mar 692454
2014Apr 684443
2014June 656431
2014Aug 637430
2014Sep 630420
2014Oct 632419
2014Nov 635425
2014Dec 643441
2015Jan 645458
2015Feb 633455
2015Mar 626443
2015Apr 625427
2015June 611410
2015Aug 604420
2015Sep 609417
2015Oct 616421
2015Nov 596427
2015Dec 588446
2016Jan 574465
2016Feb 581469
2016Mar 574470
2016Apr 572461
2016June 550438
2016Aug 521427
2016Sep 510424
2016Oct 502420
2016Nov 499410
2016Dec 482412
2017Jan 480419
2017Feb 473416
2017Mar 463415
2017Apr 456401
2017June 446372
2017Aug 426362
2017Sep 422351
2017Oct 404343
2017Nov 397337
2017Dec 395330
2018Jan 380335
2018Feb 367330
2018Mar 357327
2018Apr 355314
2018June 354288
2018Aug 353278
2018Sep 343274
2018Oct 337269
2018Nov 326267
2018Dec 329263
2019Jan 329279
2019Feb 312274
2019Mar 307268
2019Apr 300257
2019June 313243
2019Aug 321237
2019Sep 323233
2019Oct 323233
2019Nov 324228
2019Dec 302223
2020Jan 284241
2020Feb 274240
2020Mar 273250
2020Apr 314292
2020June 404301
2020Aug 426292
*Unemployment figures for July and August are provisional


Higher employment and unemployment in August

Over the previous three months, the size of the Dutch labour force (the active and unemployed labour force combined) increased by 49 thousand people monthly on average. This increase followed a sharp decline in the size of the labour force in April, after the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis. The increase was partly on account of a less substantial rise in unemployment compared to the number of employed in that period.
As a result of the rise in both employment and unemployment in June, July and August, in the latter month the labour market was back at the same level as in Q1 2020.

Unemployment grew more slowly than in previous 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 426 thousand unemployed in August, equivalent to 4.6 percent of the labour force. This was 4.5 percent in July. Unemployment was still rising between May and June, from 3.6 to 4.3 percent.

UWV: Decline in unemployment benefits

At the end of August, UWV provided 292 thousand unemployment (WW) benefits. This represents a decline of 9.1 thousand on July, when it amounted to 301 thousand. The decline was mainly visible among young people aged 15 to 25 years (-14.9 percent). Nevertheless, the number of WW benefits is still substantially higher than at the beginning of 2020.

UWV: Fewer new benefits

In August, 7.1 thousand new WW benefits were granted each week on average. This represents a decline on July, when the average number of new WW benefits stood at 8.7 thousand. Due to the coronavirus crisis, the inflow was structurally higher between March and July of this year compared to the same period last year. By August, the number of new WW benefits was almost equal to August 2019. 

More people seeking work again

The rise in both employment and unemployment is the result of underlying flows between the active, unemployed and inactive labour force. This is visualised in the diagram below.

* Figures are provisional

Over the previous three months, unemployment rose by nearly 100 thousand. On the one hand, more people started seeking employment (from inactive labour force to unemployed) than stopped seeking (from unemployed to inactive labour force). On balance, this resulted in unemployment rising by 88 thousand over the past three months. Furthermore, more people lost their job and became unemployed (from active to unemployed) than there were unemployed people who found a job (from unemployed to active). On balance, this resulted in unemployment rising by 7 thousand persons.

Between May and August, the main reason behind the higher unemployment was that more people started seeking work rather than many people losing their job, as was the case between March and June. The number of people in work increased as well between May and August, namely by 53 thousand. This was mainly due to a larger number of people entering the labour market who found work immediately (from inactive to active labour force) against a smaller number of people who stopped working and left the labour market (from active to inactive labour force).

Between March and June, on the other hand, a relatively high proportion of the active labour force left the labour market (temporarily) and became part of the inactive labour force.

Every month, CBS publishes figures on the labour force in accordance with international guidelines. The corresponding indicators, i.e. the active 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. Over the past three months, the number of unemployed rose more sharply than the number of unemployment benefits.