In September, 4.0 million people aged 15 to 74 years did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. In addition to the unemployed, 3.7 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 22 thousand per month over the past three months. The number of people who were previously not part of the labour force and who started working or looking for work was higher than the number of employed and unemployed who left the labour market.
Unemployment rate slightly down
In order to enable comparison of cyclical movements in the labour market between countries, the unemployment indicator of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is taken as a measure. According to this indicator, the ‘unemployed’ includes all persons who do not have paid work but who have been looking recently and who are immediately available. This covers the population aged 15 to 74 years. Between March and August 2020, the unemployment rate rose from 2.9 to 4.6 percent. After that, it declined almost continuously, to 3.1 percent in July 2021. After a slight increase in August, the rate in September was back at 3.1 percent, just as in July.
Aside from the unemployed, there are also semi-unemployed who have either recently looked for work (but are not available) or are immediately available (but have not looked), as well as part-timers who want to work more hours. These groups fall outside the unemployment definition, but are counted towards the unused labour potential. After a temporary increase during the first period of the coronavirus crisis, in the second quarter of 2020, the total unused labour potential (including the unemployed) decreased significantly last year. In Q2 2021, it comprised 1.0 million people aged 15 to 74 years.
|Unemployment indicator (ILO)|
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
|WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)|
UWV: further decline in WW benefits in September
At the end of September 2021, UWV was providing 207.9 thousand WW benefits. This is 4.7 thousand fewer than at the end of August, i.e. a 2.2-percent drop. The decrease in the number of WW benefits started in February and has now lasted for eight months in a row. In September, 27.9 thousand benefits were terminated, while 23.2 thousand new benefits were paid.
UWV: sharp drop in WW benefits in accommodation and food services again
In September, the number of WW benefits declined in most sectors. The largest decrease was recorded in the accommodation and food services. The number of WW benefits in this sector fell by 12.3 percent in September. In the preceding months, there was a relatively large decrease as well. Other sectors with a relatively large decline in WW benefits in September were culture (-6.0 percent), cleaning (-5.5 percent) and retail trade (-4.8 percent).
Labour participation up mainly among young people
In September, 69.7 percent of the population aged 15 to 74 years were in paid employment. Among young people in particular, the percentage of employed rose sharply over the past three months, from 63.9 to 65.0 percent. The employment rate among older age groups also rose, but less sharply than among young people. Nevertheless, the labour participation rate among young people was still lower than at the start of the coronavirus crisis (66.0 percent in February 2020). Young people also relatively often express a desire to work more hours. In Q2 2021, 206 thousand young people wanted to work more hours.
Unemployment further down over the past three months
The further 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.
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.