Unemployment further down

© CBS / Alrik Swagerman
In March 2021, 326 thousand people were unemployed. From January through March, unemployment declined by an average of 14 thousand per month. In the same period, the number of people in paid employment grew by 8 thousand per month on average. The active labour force comprised 9.0 million people in March. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures. At the end of March, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 282 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

In March, 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 rose by an average of 6 thousand per month over the past three months.

Unemployment rate lower in March

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 326 thousand unemployed in March, equivalent to 3.5 percent of the labour force. Between March and August 2020, the unemployment rate rose from 2.9 to 4.6 percent. After that, it declined almost continuously.

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)
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
2020December368286
2021January337289
2021February340286
2021March326282

UWV: fewer current unemployment benefits in March

At the end of March 2021, UWV provided 282 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits. The number of current benefits fell by 3.9 thousand (-1.4 percent) relative to February. Relative to one year previously, it was up by 12.7 percent. There were 250 thousand WW benefits at the end of March 2020, shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.

UWV: fewer benefits paid to young people

The decline in the number of current WW benefits in March relative to February was largest among young people under the age of 27 (-6.7 percent). The number of benefits declined slightly in the age group 27 to 49 (-1.8 percent), while it remained fairly stable among people aged 50 and over (+0.5 percent).

Most sectors recorded fewer current WW benefits in March relative to February. The decrease was largest in agriculture (-6.3 percent). In the spring, employment rises in this seasonally sensitive sector. The number of WW benefits in accommodation, food and catering services also decreased above average (-4.6 percent), but was still nearly twice as high as one year previously. An increase in the number of benefits was recorded in the cleaning sector (+3.5 percent), in retail trade (+2.4 percent) and in the food, beverages and tobacco industry (+1.6 percent).

On average, unemployment declined over the past three months

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 March, 326 thousand people were unemployed. This number stood at 368 thousand three months previously, in December. This means that unemployment declined by 42 thousand over this period (14 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 14 thousand fewer unemployed.

Unemployment development relative to 3 months previously and balance of employment inflow and outflow, seasonally adjusted*
   Unemployment development (x 1,000)Net inflow, from employed to unemployed (x 1,000)Net inflow, from inactive labour force to unemployed (x 1,000)
2014January1117-6
2014February2223-2
2014March520-15
2014April-78-15
2014May-27-5-22
2014June-36-16-20
2014July-36-23-14
2014August-35-28-7
2014September-26-270
2014October-16-3216
2014November-2-2726
2014December13-2236
2015January13-2336
2015February-2-2624
2015March-17-3316
2015April-20-3110
2015May-16-3317
2015June-15-3521
2015July-22-4119
2015August-13-3624
2015September-2-2827
2015October13-1933
2015November-8-2719
2015December-21-266
2016January-42-33-9
2016February-15-215
2016March-14-2410
2016April-2-2522
2016May-21-3817
2016June-24-4217
2016July-31-4311
2016August-39-455
2016September-40-401
2016October-39-423
2016November-22-3614
2016December-28-4013
2017January-22-3714
2017February-26-3812
2017March-19-3819
2017April-24-4319
2017May-17-4023
2017June-17-3719
2017July-20-3616
2017August-30-399
2017September-24-3712
2017October-32-419
2017November-29-4112
2017December-27-4317
2018January-24-3915
2018February-30-4415
2018March-38-5013
2018April-25-4319
2018May-15-4024
2018June-3-3633
2018July-7-3326
2018August1-3133
2018September-11-3624
2018October-11-3423
2018November-27-3913
2018December-14-3622
2019January-8-3325
2019February-14-3118
2019March-22-3311
2019April-29-312
2019May-10-2515
2019June6-1925
2019July13-1830
2019August19-1333
2019September10-2131
2019October10-1829
2019November3-2023
2019December-21-309
2020January-39-38-2
2020February-50-46-4
2020March-29-334
2020April3031-1
2020May5664-8
2020June1311239
2020July1053967
2020August96788
2020September9-3644
2020October-13-3017
2020November-48-34-14
2020December-45-28-17
2021January-69-39-30
2021February-38-28-9
2021March-42-28-13

Increase in number of employed levelling off

The active labour force grew by 24 thousand over the past three months. This is the smallest increase in the past six months. The number of employed grew because there were more unemployed who found work than employed who lost their job and became unemployed (+28 thousand). On the other hand, there were fewer people (171 thousand) who entered the labour market and found work immediately (from inactive to active labour force). In March, this number was smaller than the number of people (177 thousand) who stopped working and left the labour market (from active to inactive labour force). As a result, the active labour force declined by 6 thousand.

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.