Number of employed further up

A man unloads food from a lorry
© CBS / Nikki van Toorn
In the period July through September, the number of people aged 15 to 74 years in employment grew by 22 thousand per month on average, to 9.1 million in September. Labour participation grew most rapidly among young people. In the same period, unemployment declined by an average of 2 thousand per month. As a result, 292 thousand people were unemployed in September. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures. At the end of September, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 208 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

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 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
2021April316266
2021May309250
2021June297238
2021July289224
2021August301213
2021September292208

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.