In January, 3.8 million people aged 15 to 74 years did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. In addition to the unemployed, 3.4 million people were not looking and/or immediately available for work recently; they are not counted towards the labour force. Their number decreased by an average of 3 thousand per month over the past three months.
Unemployment rate lower in January
In order to enable comparison of cyclical developments in the labour market across countries, the unemployment indicator of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is used as a measure. According to this indicator, the unemployed include 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 February and July 2020, the unemployment rate rose from 4.0 to 5.5 percent. This was followed by almost continuous decline, to 3.6 percent of the labour force in January this year. This is the lowest rate since 2003, the first year for which monthly figures are available.
|Unemployment indicator (ILO)|
(15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)
|WW benefits (15 yrs to pension entitlement age) (x 1,000)|
|* The figures for January 2022 are provisional.|
UWV: slightly more WW benefits in January
From December 2021 to January 2022, the number of WW benefits rose by almost 1.2 thousand, ending at nearly 193 thousand by the end of January. The after-effects of the restrictive COVID-19 measures are visible in the sectors culture and accommodation and food services, where an increase was seen of 7.3 and 5.7 percent, respectively. More benefits were recorded in construction as well (+5.4 percent), due to the seasonal sensitivity of this sector.
UWV: inflow exceeded outflow in January
In January 2022, more new WW benefits (25.6 thousand) were granted than current benefits were terminated (24.5 thousand). The number of new benefits was down by 36 percent year on year.
Sharp rise in net labour participation among young people
In the past three months, nearly 80 thousand people in employment were added to the active labour force. Of this group, 35 thousand were under the age of 25. As a result, in January 2022 the net labour participation rate among young people exceeded 74 percent (74.3) for the first time. This is higher than in January 2020, when the rate peaked at 73.6 percent just before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.
|Net labour participation rate (15 to 24 yrs) (%)|
Unemployment declined 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 December, 354 thousand people were unemployed. This number stood at 382 thousand two months previously in October. Unemployment therefore declined by 28 thousand over this period (9 thousand per month on average). As shown in the above diagram, unemployment can decline because unemployed people find a job or because they withdraw from 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, there were more unemployed who found a job than employed who lost their job, as a result of which unemployment fell by 64 thousand on balance. The decline was mitigated by the fact that more people started seeking work without immediate result (from inactive labour force to unemployed) than stopped seeking and/or became unavailable (from unemployed to inactive labour force). On balance, there was an inflow of 35 thousand unemployed from the inactive labour force.
Development of unemployment during the coronavirus crisis
Unemployment rose rapidly due to the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020. During the first phase of the crisis, April to July 2020 inclusive, unemployment grew mainly because more people in work lost their job and fewer unemployed found a job. It continued to grow in August and September 2020, mainly because people who were previously not looking or not available entered the labour market but did not find a job immediately. As of October 2020, unemployment fell almost continuously, mainly due to another sharp rise in the number of people who found work.
|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)|
|* The figures for January 2022 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.
Due to the measures taken against the spread of the coronavirus, respondents could no longer be visited at home from mid-December onwards, and were therefore less likely to participate in the survey. The effect of this has been estimated based on models and therefore the accuracy of the December and January figures is slightly lower than normal.