Increase in unemployment has levelled off

© Hollandse Hoogte / Peter Hilz
In September 2020, there were 413 thousand unemployed, equivalent to 4.4 percent of the labour force. Unemployment declined compared to August and the increase seen in recent months has levelled off. In the period July through September, the number of unemployed increased by a monthly average of 3 thousand. From June to August, unemployment still rose by 32 thousand on average per month, with the unemployment rate going up to 4.6 percent. The number of employed increased slightly as well over the past three months, by 2 thousand per month on average. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new labour force figures. At the end of September, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 278 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

From July to September, the size of the Dutch labour force (the active and unemployed labour force combined) increased by 5 thousand people monthly on average. This brings the number of people on the labour market (9.3 million) to a level comparable to that of the first three months of 2020. There were 4.2 million people in September who did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. In addition to the unemployed, 3.8 million people were not looking and/or immediately available for work recently. These people are not counted towards the labour force. Their number decreased by 1 thousand per month on average over the past three months.

Unemployment declined in September

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 413 thousand unemployed in September, equivalent to 4.4 percent of the labour force. In August, this was 4.6 percent (426 thousand). Between March and August, unemployment was still rising on a monthly basis.

Unemployment* and unemployment benefits
YearMonthUnemployment 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
2020March273250
2020April314292
2020May330301
2020June404301
2020July419301
2020August426292
2020September413278
*The unemployment figures for July, August and September are provisional.

UWV: Again fewer unemployment benefits

The number of current unemployment (WW) benefits fell in September, just as in August. At the end of September, UWV provided 278 thousand WW benefits, representing a decline of more than 13 thousand on August (292 thousand). The number of benefits was down in almost every sector. The decline was mainly visible among young people aged 15 to 24 years (-17.6 percent).

UWV: Fewer new benefits

In September, 6.2 thousand new WW benefits were granted each week on average. This is a decline of 13.2 percent relative to August (7.1 thousand per week on average). Due to the coronavirus crisis, the inflow was substantially higher from March to July 2020 compared to 2019. This trend has not continued: in August and September, the average weekly inflow was only slightly higher than one year previously.

More people moving from unemployment to employment

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.

In September, 413 thousand people were unemployed. The number stood at 404 thousand three months previously, in June. This means that unemployment rose by 9 thousand over this period (3 thousand per month on average). This was mainly because more people started seeking work (from inactive labour force to unemployed) than there were people who stopped seeking (from unemployed to inactive labour force). On balance, this resulted in unemployment rising by 44 thousand over the past three months.

There were more unemployed who found a job (from unemployed to employed) than employed who lost their job (from employed to unemployed). On balance, this resulted in unemployment declining by 36 thousand persons. For the first time since March 2020, this balance is negative again.

The number of people in work increased slightly as well between June and September, by 5 thousand. This was mainly due to the fact that the number of unemployed who found a job (from unemployed to active) was higher than the number of employed who lost their job (from active to unemployed).

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.

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