Youth labour participation recovered partially in Q3-Q4 2020

The upward trend in youth labour participation which started in 2016 came to an abrupt end last year as the coronavirus crisis set in. In Q2 2020, the youth labour participation rate fell from 65.9 to 60.3 percent, returning to the level of Q1 2016. Labour participation rose again in the third and fourth quarters, to 62.7 percent. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this in the CBS Youth Monitor.

In Q2 2020, net labour participation showed a more severe drop among 15 to 24 year-olds than among people aged 25 and over. The number of people in work fell by 173 thousand. Young people formed the majority: of the 173 thousand people who lost their job, 117 thousand belonged to the age group 15 to 24 years.

Labour participation among young people picked up again in the third and fourth quarters. Despite the upturn, in Q4 2020 the rate (62.7 percent) had not reached the level recorded one year previously (65.6 percent). In the same period, labour participation declined slightly in the age group 45 to 74 years and remained stable in the group aged 25 to 44 years.

Net labour participation, seasonally adjusted
yearquarter15-24 yrs (%)25-44 yrs (%)45-74 yrs (%)

Sharpest drop among young men without formal education

Between Q4 2019 and Q4 2020, labour participation declined most substantially among young men without enrolment in formal education (from 80.3 to 76.1 percent). This resulted in a wider gap in labour participation between young men and young women without education enrolment. In the group with education enrolment, male labour participation fell from 58.9 to 55.8 percent. The decline was slightly more moderate among young women enrolled in education.

Net labour participation 15-24 yrs, not seasonally adjusted
gesclachteducationQ4 2019 (%)Q4 2020 (%)
MenEnrolled in education58.955.8
MenNot enrolled80.376.1
WomenEnrolled in education61.860.2
WomenNot enrolled80.677.7

60 thousand fewer young flex workers

In Q2 2020 - during the first few months of the coronavirus crisis - the number of flex workers showed a relatively substantial decline. This decline did not continue beyond Q2. In Q4 2020, a total of 822 thousand young people were working under a flexible employment contract, i.e. 60 thousand fewer than in Q4 2019. The number of young people in regular employment decreased by 3 thousand to 433 thousand.

Youth unemployment has risen. In Q4 2020, there were 36 thousand more young unemployed than one year previously. They were out of work but seeking and immediately available for new employment. Furthermore, the number of young people who were not seeking a job or were not available for the labour market grew as well (+29 thousand). A larger number of young people were not available due to enrolment in education (12 thousand). In addition, the group of young people who were not seeking because they considered it unlikely to find work grew by 13 thousand.

Sharpest drop for young workers in food services

Last year, the most severe decline among young workers was seen among waiters and bar staff. A drop was also recorded in kitchen assistant jobs. The number of professional chefs - forming a smaller occupational group - saw a substantial decline: by 8 thousand. The number of shelf stackers increased by 16 thousand year-on-year.

Employment (15-24 yrs) in top 10 occupational groups for this age group
occupational groupQ4 2020 (x 1,000)Q4 2019 (x 1,000)
Loaders, unloaders, shelf stackers178162
Retail sales staff132128
Waiter and bar staff91140
Kitchen assistants4560
Garbage collectors and newspaper carriers4948
Social workers, group and housing supervisors3234
Call centre agents outbound and other sales staff3428

The CBS Youth Labour Monitor uses the age classification 15 to 26 years for young people. However, most CBS publications on labour as well as StatLine tables define youth as people with ages ranging between 15 and 25 years. Hence, this news release uses the same age range. Seasonally adjusted figures are available for a breakdown by sex and age. No such figures are available for further breakdowns in this news release, e.g. occupation or enrolment in education.