From October to December, the size of the Dutch labour force (the active and unemployed labour force combined) increased by 10 thousand people monthly on average. This is mainly due to a sharp increase in the number of employed in October and November. In December, 4.1 million people aged 15 to 74 years 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 in December
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 368 thousand unemployed in December, equivalent to 3.9 percent of the labour force. In November, this was 4.0 percent (378 thousand). Between March and August, unemployment rose by over 150 thousand. Subsequently, it fell by nearly 60 thousand up through December.
|Unemployment indicator (ILO)|
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
|WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)|
UWV: More unemployment benefits in December
At the end of December 2020, UWV provided 286 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits. This is over 9 thousand benefits more than in the previous month, an increase of 3 percent. In December, the number of WW benefits was up in the construction sector in particular (25 percent). This is customary for this time of year. More benefits were also seen in another seasonally sensitive sector, namely agriculture (14 percent). In addition, the number of WW benefits rose in the temporary employment sector (10 percent) and in the sector accommodation and food services and catering (10 percent). Accommodation and food services and temporary employment are two of the sectors severely affected by the measures limiting contact between people to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
UWV: Sharp increase in 2020 among young people
Compared to December 2019, the number of WW benefits increased by 28 percent. An increase was seen in all age categories. The number of WW benefits among young people under the age of 25 rose most substantially by far: from 9.1 thousand at the end of 2019 to 19.5 thousand at the end of 2020. This represents an increase of 114 percent.
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 December, 368 thousand people were unemployed. This number stood at 413 thousand three months previously, in September. This means that unemployment declined by 45 thousand over this period (15 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 28 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 17 thousand fewer unemployed persons.
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.