Unemployment down to pre-pandemic level

A woman stands in a shopping street in front of a large sign which says 'Staff wanted'.
© Hollandse Hoogte / Peter Hilz
In the period August through October, unemployment declined by an average of 4 thousand per month, to 277 thousand in October. This is 2.9 percent of the labour force and the same percentage as in February 2020, before the start of the coronavirus crisis. The number of people aged 15 to 74 years in employment grew by 21 thousand per month on average over the past three months, to 9.2 million. Labour participation grew mainly among young people. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures. At the end of October, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) recorded 199 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

In October, 3.9 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 19 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 further 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. In October, the unemployment rate amounted to 2.9 percent, just as in February 2020. In the intervening period, the rate rose to 4.6 percent in August 2020 and then 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
2021April316266
2021May309250
2021June297238
2021July289224
2021August301213
2021September292208
2021October277199
*The unemployment figures for October are provisional.

UWV: fewer than 200 thousand WW benefits at the end of October

At the end of October 2021, UWV was providing 199.1 thousand WW benefits. This is 8.8 thousand fewer than at the end of September, i.e. a 4.2-percent drop. The decrease in the number of WW benefits started in February and has now lasted for nine months in a row. In September, 26.3 thousand benefits were terminated, while 17.5 thousand new ones were paid.

UWV: fewer WW benefits in culture, accommodation and food services, and retail trade

In October, the number of WW benefits declined in virtually all sectors. The largest decreases were recorded in culture (-8.6 percent), accommodation, food and catering services (-8.2 percent) and retail trade (-7.2 percent). The only sector with an increase was agriculture, greenery and fisheries (+3.2 percent). Seasonal effects play a role here.

Labour participation higher than before coronavirus crisis

In October, 69.9 percent of the population aged 15 to 74 years were in paid employment. This percentage is higher than in February 2020, before the start of the coronavirus crisis (69.3 percent). The number of people in paid employment has increased by 100 thousand since then. This increase can be attributed to the over-25s. Although young people have been catching up substantially since June this year, their net labour participation rate in October (65.6 percent) still lags behind the rate in February 2020 (66.0 percent).

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.

 

In October, 277 thousand people were unemployed. This number stood at 289 thousand three months previously, in July. Unemployment declined by 12 thousand over this period (4 thousand per month on average). As shown in the above diagram, unemployment may decline when unemployed find work or when they leave the labour market. Conversely, there can be an inflow into unemployment from the active labour force and from the inactive labour force.

In the past three months, unemployment fell only because there were more unemployed who found a job than employed who lost their job. On balance, this resulted in unemployment declining by 23 thousand. In October, there were more people who started seeking work with no direct result (from inactive labour force to unemployed) than unemployed who stopped seeking and/or were not available (from unemployed to inactive labour force). As a result, unemployment rose by 12 thousand over the past three months, on balance.

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)
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
2021April-21-242
2021May-31-29-2
2021June-29-311
2021July-27-348
2021August-8-2820
2021September-5-2016
2021October-12-2312
*The figures for October are provisional.

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.