Unemployment further down in November

In November 2020, there were 378 thousand unemployed, equivalent to 4.0 percent of the labour force. From September through November, unemployment declined by an average of 16 thousand per month. The number of employed grew by 22 thousand per month on average over the past three months. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new labour force figures. At the end of November, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 276 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

From September to November, the size of the Dutch labour force (the active and unemployed labour force combined) increased by 6 thousand people monthly on average. This is due to a sharp increase in the number of employed in October (+40 thousand) and November (+29 thousand). There were 4.1 million people in November 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 2 thousand per month over the past three months.

Sharp decline in unemployment in November

In order to enable comparison of cyclical movements in the labour market between countries, the unemployment indicator of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is often taken as a measure. According to this indicator, the ‘unemployed’ includes all persons who do not have paid work but who have been looking for paid work recently and who are immediately available. This covers the population aged 15 to 74 years. There were 378 thousand unemployed in November, equivalent to 4.0 percent of the labour force. In October, this was 4.3 percent (406 thousand). Between March and August, unemployment rose by over 150 thousand. Subsequently, it fell by nearly 50 thousand up through November.

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
2020October406278
2020November378276
*The unemployment figures for October and November are provisional.

UWV: Fewer unemployment benefits in November

At the end of November 2020, UWV provided 276 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits. This is 1.9 thousand down on October, representing a decrease of 0.7 percent. Relative to one year previously, the number of current WW benefits was up (+21.4 percent).

In November, the number of current WW benefits declined in most sectors. Sectors with an increase relative to October included accommodation and food services (+14.5 percent), culture (+6.6 percent) and transportation and logistics (+1.2 percent).

UWV: Outflow exceeded inflow in November

In November, UWV issued 33 thousand new WW benefits. The number of terminated benefits stood at nearly 35 thousand. Due to higher outflow than inflow, the total number of current benefits was slightly down in November.

Lower number of unemployed

The decline in the number of unemployed 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 November, 378 thousand people were unemployed. This number stood at 426 thousand three months previously, in August. This means that unemployment declined by 48 thousand over this period (16 thousand per month on average). On the one hand, this was because there were more unemployed who found work (from unemployed to employed) than employed who lost their job and became unemployed (from employed to unemployed). On balance, this resulted in unemployment declining by 34 thousand over the past three months.

On the other hand, unemployment also declined because there were fewer people who started looking with no direct result (from inactive labour force to unemployed) than people who stopped looking and/or were not available (from unemployed to inactive labour force). On balance, this resulted in 14 thousand fewer unemployed persons. In October, the number of people who started looking still exceeded the number who stopped looking and/or were unavailable, setting back slightly the fall 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.