Unemployment up again

© ANP / Venema Media
In August 2022, unemployment continued to rise, reaching 378 thousand. This is 3.8 percent of the labour force. From June through August, unemployment rose by an average of 18 thousand per month. More people started seeking work but did not find a job. There were also more job losses. Over the three-month period, the employed labour force (aged 15 to 74 years) decreased slightly for the first time since May 2021, by 3 thousand on average. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new labour force figures. At the end of August, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) records included 152 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits.

In August, 3.7 million people aged 15 to 74 did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. Aside from the unemployed, 3.3 million people were not looking and/or immediately available for work; they are not counted towards the labour force. This mainly concerns people who are retired or unable to work due to illness or disability. Their number has dropped by an average of 9 thousand per month over the past three months.

Unemployment rate up in August

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 are those who are not in paid work, but have been looking recently and are immediately available. This figure refers to the population aged 15 to 74 years. In April 2022, unemployment came out at 3.2 percent, the lowest rate in the series with monthly figures as of 2003. It subsequently increased to 3.8 percent in August, i.e. back to the level of the end of 2021.

Not all unemployed people receive a benefit. Those who were not previously working but start looking for work and are available are also counted towards the unemployed. However, they are not entitled to receive a WW benefit.

Unemployment and WW unemployment benefits
   Unemployment indicator (ILO) (15 to 74 yrs, seasonally adjusted) (x 1,000)WW unemployment benefits (15 yrs up to state pension age) (x 1,000)
2012January595292
2012February586299
2012March593296
2012April618292
2012May609291
2012June609291
2012July623298
2012August620304
2012September634304
2012October644310
2012November655322
2012December676340
2013January692369
2013February707377
2013March728380
2013April734380
2013May747378
2013June766382
2013July782395
2013August783399
2013September783400
2013October782408
2013November772419
2013December779438
2014January786460
2014February800460
2014March794454
2014April787443
2014May775436
2014June757431
2014July746437
2014August738430
2014September733420
2014October738419
2014November742425
2014December753441
2015January760458
2015February747455
2015March745443
2015April743427
2015May732416
2015June725410
2015July708420
2015August708420
2015September712417
2015October722421
2015November703427
2015December695446
2016January680465
2016February688469
2016March680470
2016April679461
2016May668448
2016June656438
2016July648432
2016August628427
2016September617424
2016October609420
2016November607410
2016December590412
2017January588419
2017February582416
2017March571415
2017April563401
2017May564386
2017June555372
2017July544364
2017August534362
2017September529351
2017October511343
2017November504337
2017December503330
2018January487335
2018February474330
2018March465327
2018April463314
2018May460301
2018June463288
2018July458279
2018August463278
2018September451274
2018October444269
2018November433267
2018December437263
2019January437279
2019February419274
2019March416268
2019April409257
2019May411251
2019June423243
2019July424234
2019August432237
2019September432233
2019October432233
2019November434228
2019December409223
2020January390241
2020February383240
2020March388250
2020April427292
2020May439301
2020June513301
2020July532301
2020August533292
2020September519278
2020October509278
2020November485276
2020December476286
2021January448289
2021February450286
2021March439282
2021April427266
2021May419250
2021June405238
2021July393224
2021August406213
2021September399208
2021October382199
2021November359189
2021December369192
2022January354193
2022February336188
2022March327184
2022April316175
2022May323165
2022June339161
2022July353157
2022August378152

UWV: number of benefits further down in August

At the end of August 2022, UWV was providing nearly 152 thousand WW benefits. This is nearly 5 thousand fewer than in the previous month (-3.1 percent). Relative to August 2021, the number of WW benefits was down by almost 61 thousand (-28.7 percent). In August 2022, there were over 14 thousand new WW benefits; more than 19 thousand were terminated.

UWV: fewer benefits in all sectors except for education

In August, the number of current WW benefits declined across virtually all sectors, except for education (+14.7 percent). This is a usual development for the summer months and is related to the expiration of temporary employment contracts at the end of the school year. Just as in the past few months, in August the largest decrease in WW benefits occurred in the sectors accommodation and food services (-6.3 percent) and construction (-5.7 percent), although the decrease was less than in previous months.

Mainly fewer young people in work

In August, there were 9.5 million people in work. Over the past three months, the number of people in employment has decreased by an average of 3 thousand per month. The net labour participation rate - the percentage indicating how many people aged 15 to 74 years in the population are in paid work - declined from 72.3 percent in May to 72.1 percent in August. The decrease occurred almost exclusively among 15 to 24-year-olds. Net labour participation in this group fell from 76.1 to 74.9 percent. It hardly changed among 25 to 44-year-olds and 45 to 74-year-olds.

Net labour participation
JaarMaand15 to 24 yrs (%)25 to 44 yrs (%)45 to 74 yrs (%)
2020January73.686.259.7
2020February73.586.259.7
2020March72.886.159.5
2020April68.185.858.9
2020May66.985.659.2
2020June68.285.359.3
2020July68.285.359.3
2020August68.385.459.3
2020September68.785.559.0
2020October70.385.759.0
2020November70.285.859.3
2020December69.885.959.4
2021January69.885.959.4
2021February69.986.159.5
2021March69.986.059.2
2021April70.286.159.2
2021May70.286.159.3
2021June71.986.459.6
2021July72.386.559.7
2021August72.786.459.9
2021September72.886.660.0
2021October73.186.960.2
2021November73.387.060.3
2021December73.786.760.4
2022January74.386.960.5
2022February74.887.060.5
2022March75.687.260.9
2022April75.987.561.1
2022May76.187.461.1
2022June75.787.261.1
2022July75.687.361.1
2022August74.987.361.2
2022

More job losses

The rise in unemployment over the past three months (by 55 thousand in total and by 18 thousand per month on average) is the result of underlying flows between the active, unemployed and inactive labour force. This is visualised in the diagram below.



The diagram shows that unemployment may increase not only because people in work lose their job, but also because people enter the labour force who were not previously part of it. As soon as they start seeking work and are available, they also become part of the unemployed.

The inflow from the inactive labour force is usually the most important reason for unemployment growth. This was also the case in the previous months, but in June, July and August, the inflow of employed who had lost their job increased, while the flow from unemployed to employed labour force became slightly smaller. On balance, in August this resulted in the smallest outflow from unemployment to employment (5 thousand) since the beginning of this year.

Outflow from unemployment to employment (previous three months' balance)
Jaar MaandOutflow from unemployment to employment (balance) (x 1,000)
2020January63
2020February70
2020March54
2020April-6
2020May-32
2020June-83
2020July-14
2020August18
2020September62
2020October59
2020November59
2020December52
2021January60
2021February52
2021March52
2021April47
2021May51
2021June55
2021July60
2021August52
2021September43
2021October44
2021November65
2021December61
2022January64
2022February62
2022March64
2022April60
2022May59
2022June39
2022July20
2022August5

As of May, the balance of inflow from the inactive labour force to unemployed labour force (61 thousand) was higher than earlier this year. This resulted in unemployment growth of 55 thousand since May, or 18 thousand per month on average. Due to the smaller outflow into employment and the larger inflow from the inactive labour force, unemployment rose from 323 thousand in May to 378 thousand in August.

Inflow to unemployment by the inactive labour force (previous three months' balance)
Jaar MaandInflow to unemployment by the inactive labour force (x 1,000)
2020January21
2020February18
2020March33
2020April32
2020May24
2020June42
2020July91
2020August112
2020September67
2020October37
2020November11
2020December9
2021January0
2021February18
2021March14
2021April26
2021May21
2021June22
2021July25
2021August39
2021September37
2021October34
2021November19
2021December31
2022January35
2022February38
2022March23
2022April22
2022May46
2022June50
2022July57
2022August61

Every month, CBS publishes figures on the Dutch 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.