Unemployment slightly down

© Hollandse Hoogte / Peter Hilz
In October 2020, there were 406 thousand unemployed, equivalent to 4.3 percent of the labour force. In the period August through October, unemployment declined by an average of 4 thousand per month. Such a decrease, measured over three months, has not occurred since March this year. The number of employed grew by 14 thousand per month over the past three months. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new labour force figures. At the end of October, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 278 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

From August to October, the size of the Dutch labour force (the active and unemployed labour force combined) increased by 9 thousand people monthly on average. This is mainly due to a sharp increase in the number of employed in October. There were 4.2 million people in October 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 an average of 5 thousand per month over the past three months.

Unemployment declined further in October

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 406 thousand unemployed in October, equivalent to 4.3 percent of the labour force. In September, this was 4.4 percent (413 thousand). Between March and August, unemployment was still rising on a monthly basis, from 273 thousand to 426 thousand.

Unemployment* and unemployment benefits
JaarMaandUnemployment 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
2020October406278
*The unemployment figures for October are provisional.

UWV: Number of current unemployment benefits the same in October

After the number of current unemployment (WW) benefits had fallen for two months in a row, it stabilised in October. Just as in September, UWV provided 278 thousand WW benefits at the end of October. Year-on-year, the number of WW benefits was up by 19.2 percent. The largest year-on-year increase was seen among occupations in the service sector and in transport and logistics.

UWV: More new WW benefits, mainly in accommodation and food services

In October, 8.5 thousand new WW benefits were granted each week on average. This represents an increase of 37 percent on the previous month. The sharpest rise was recorded in accommodation and food services. Because an average of 8.5 thousand WW benefits per week were also terminated, the total number of benefits remained the same.

Decline in unemployment

The decline in unemployment over the past three months is the result of underlying flows between the active, unemployed and inactive labour force. This is visualised in the diagram below.

In October, 406 thousand people were unemployed. This number stood at 419 thousand three months previously, in July. This means that unemployment declined by 13 thousand over this period (4 thousand per month on average). This was mainly because there were more people who found work (from unemployed to employed) than became unemployed because they were out of work (from employed to unemployed). On balance, this resulted in unemployment declining by 30 thousand over the past three months.

On the other hand, there were more people who started seeking work (from inactive labour force to unemployed) than unemployed who stopped seeking (from unemployed to inactive labour force). On balance, this resulted in unemployment increasing by 17 thousand persons.

This means that the unemployed labour force may grow as a result of either more people in work or out of work. In the months of July, August and September, unemployment increased mainly due to a growing number out of work. This group was much larger than in October (67 thousand, 88 thousand and 44 thousand respectively), because considerably more people started seeking work in this period. In addition, the unemployed labour force still grew in July and August as more people lost their job. This is no longer the case as of September.

At the start of the coronavirus crisis, the number of people in work fell sharply, among young people in particular. Over the past few months, job losses have been less pronounced and the influx from the inactive labour force, especially among young people, has returned to pre-crisis levels, driving employment up again.

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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