Unemployment slightly down in February
The employed labour force (aged 15 to 74 years) has grown by 17 thousand per month on average over the past three months. This group accounts for 72.9 percent of the total population (net labour participation rate). The percentage was still rising sharply at the end of 2022, but remained the same in the first two months of 2023.
In February, 3.6 million people aged 15 to 74 years 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. These are mainly retirees and people unable to work due to illness or disability. Their number dropped by an average of 9 thousand per month in the period December through February.
UWV: number of WW benefits in February virtually unchanged
At the end of February, UWV provided 154 thousand current WW benefits. This is barely different from the number at the end of January. Relative to one year previously, the number of WW benefits fell by nearly 34 thousand. This represents a decrease of 18 percent. Across all sectors, the number of WW benefits declined compared to February 2022. At 46 percent, the sharpest decrease was seen in accommodation and food services.
|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)|
Unemployment among 45 to 74-year-olds at record low
In February, 3.5 percent of the labour force was unemployed. This means that the unemployment rate was lower than six months previously but still higher than in April 2022, when the lowest rate (3.2 percent) was measured in the series with monthly figures as of 2003.
Among 45 to 74-year-olds, the unemployment rate in April 2022 stood at 2.3 percent. In February 2023, the rate was even slightly lower for the first time since the start of the series: 2.2 percent. Among 15 to 24-year-olds and 25 to 44-year-olds, the rate was higher in February 2023 than in April last year.
|15-74 yrs (%)||15-24 yrs (%)||25-44 yrs (%)||45-74 yrs (%)|
Inflow of unemployed from inactive labour force slightly higher again
There were 8 thousand fewer unemployed in February than three months previously (a decrease of 3 thousand per month on average). This decline is the result of underlying flows between the active, unemployed and inactive labour force. This is visualised in the diagram below. The chart below the diagram shows how these different flows have developed over the past few years.
The graphics show there are two flows that can reduce unemployment. The first flow is when unemployed people find a job; the second flow is when unemployed people stop seeking work and withdraw from the labour market.
There are also two opposite flows, which can increase unemployment. These occur when people in employment lose their jobs and when people who were not active on the labour market start seeking work. If they do not find work immediately, they become unemployed.
In recent months, unemployment has declined because the number of people in work who became unemployed was lower than the number of unemployed who found a job. In February, this balance stood at 45 thousand, which is more or less the same as in the previous month.
In February, the inflow of unemployed from the inactive labour force amounted to 37 thousand, on balance. This is somewhat higher than in the final months of 2022, but still not as high as in the summer months of last year, when the number of unemployed increased. This is because the inflow of jobseekers from the inactive labour force over the past few months was lower than during those summer months and the number of people who stopped seeking work was still slightly higher than it was at that time.
Every month, CBS publishes figures on the labour force in accordance with guidelines of the International Labour Organization (ILO). 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.
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