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In March, 4.1 million people aged 15 to 74 years did not have paid work for a variety of reasons. In addition to the unemployed, 3.8 million people were not looking and/or immediately available for work recently. These people are not counted towards the labour force. Their number rose by an average of 6 thousand per month over the past three months.

Unemployment rate lower in March

In order to enable comparison of cyclical movements in the labour market between countries, the unemployment indicator of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is often taken as a measure. According to this indicator, the ‘unemployed’ includes all persons who do not have paid work but who have been looking for paid work recently and who are immediately available. This covers the population aged 15 to 74 years. There were 326 thousand unemployed in March, equivalent to 3.5 percent of the labour force. Between March and August 2020, the unemployment rate rose from 2.9 to 4.6 percent. After that, it declined almost continuously.

Unemployment and unemployment benefits
2012 January 486 292
2012 February 482 299
2012 March 487 296
2012 April 502 292
2012 May 501 291
2012 June 502 291
2012 July 518 298
2012 August 517 304
2012 September 530 304
2012 October 539 310
2012 November 554 322
2012 December 572 340
2013 January 589 369
2013 February 601 377
2013 March 619 380
2013 April 625 380
2013 May 632 378
2013 June 648 382
2013 July 666 395
2013 August 670 399
2013 September 675 400
2013 October 680 408
2013 November 677 419
2013 December 687 438
2014 January 691 460
2014 February 699 460
2014 March 692 454
2014 April 684 443
2014 May 672 436
2014 June 656 431
2014 July 648 437
2014 August 637 430
2014 September 630 420
2014 October 632 419
2014 November 635 425
2014 December 643 441
2015 January 645 458
2015 February 633 455
2015 March 626 443
2015 April 625 427
2015 May 617 416
2015 June 611 410
2015 July 603 420
2015 August 604 420
2015 September 609 417
2015 October 616 421
2015 November 596 427
2015 December 588 446
2016 January 574 465
2016 February 581 469
2016 March 574 470
2016 April 572 461
2016 May 560 448
2016 June 550 438
2016 July 541 432
2016 August 521 427
2016 September 510 424
2016 October 502 420
2016 November 499 410
2016 December 482 412
2017 January 480 419
2017 February 473 416
2017 March 463 415
2017 April 456 401
2017 May 456 386
2017 June 446 372
2017 July 436 364
2017 August 426 362
2017 September 422 351
2017 October 404 343
2017 November 397 337
2017 December 395 330
2018 January 380 335
2018 February 367 330
2018 March 357 327
2018 April 355 314
2018 May 352 301
2018 June 354 288
2018 July 348 279
2018 August 353 278
2018 September 343 274
2018 October 337 269
2018 November 326 267
2018 December 329 263
2019 January 329 279
2019 February 312 274
2019 March 307 268
2019 April 300 257
2019 May 302 251
2019 June 313 243
2019 July 313 234
2019 August 321 237
2019 September 323 233
2019 October 323 233
2019 November 324 228
2019 December 302 223
2020 January 284 241
2020 February 274 240
2020 March 273 250
2020 April 314 292
2020 May 330 301
2020 June 404 301
2020 July 419 301
2020 August 426 292
2020 September 413 278
2020 October 406 278
2020 November 378 276
2020 December 368 286
2021 January 337 289
2021 February 340 286
2021 March 326 282

UWV: fewer current unemployment benefits in March

At the end of March 2021, UWV provided 282 thousand current unemployment (WW) benefits. The number of current benefits fell by 3.9 thousand (-1.4 percent) relative to February. Relative to one year previously, it was up by 12.7 percent. There were 250 thousand WW benefits at the end of March 2020, shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.

UWV: fewer benefits paid to young people

The decline in the number of current WW benefits in March relative to February was largest among young people under the age of 27 (-6.7 percent). The number of benefits declined slightly in the age group 27 to 49 (-1.8 percent), while it remained fairly stable among people aged 50 and over (+0.5 percent).

Most sectors recorded fewer current WW benefits in March relative to February. The decrease was largest in agriculture (-6.3 percent). In the spring, employment rises in this seasonally sensitive sector. The number of WW benefits in accommodation, food and catering services also decreased above average (-4.6 percent), but was still nearly twice as high as one year previously. An increase in the number of benefits was recorded in the cleaning sector (+3.5 percent), in retail trade (+2.4 percent) and in the food, beverages and tobacco industry (+1.6 percent).

On average, unemployment declined over the past three months

The 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 March, 326 thousand people were unemployed. This number stood at 368 thousand three months previously, in December. This means that unemployment declined by 42 thousand over this period (14 thousand per month on average). On the one hand, this was because there were more unemployed who found work (from unemployed to employed) than employed who lost their job and became unemployed (from employed to unemployed). On balance, this resulted in unemployment declining by 28 thousand over the past three months.

On the other hand, unemployment also declined because there were fewer people who started looking with no direct result (from inactive labour force to unemployed) than people who stopped looking and/or were not available (from unemployed to inactive labour force). On balance, this resulted in 14 thousand fewer unemployed.

Unemployment development relative to 3 months previously and balance of employment inflow and outflow, seasonally adjusted*
2014 January 11 17 -6
2014 February 22 23 -2
2014 March 5 20 -15
2014 April -7 8 -15
2014 May -27 -5 -22
2014 June -36 -16 -20
2014 July -36 -23 -14
2014 August -35 -28 -7
2014 September -26 -27 0
2014 October -16 -32 16
2014 November -2 -27 26
2014 December 13 -22 36
2015 January 13 -23 36
2015 February -2 -26 24
2015 March -17 -33 16
2015 April -20 -31 10
2015 May -16 -33 17
2015 June -15 -35 21
2015 July -22 -41 19
2015 August -13 -36 24
2015 September -2 -28 27
2015 October 13 -19 33
2015 November -8 -27 19
2015 December -21 -26 6
2016 January -42 -33 -9
2016 February -15 -21 5
2016 March -14 -24 10
2016 April -2 -25 22
2016 May -21 -38 17
2016 June -24 -42 17
2016 July -31 -43 11
2016 August -39 -45 5
2016 September -40 -40 1
2016 October -39 -42 3
2016 November -22 -36 14
2016 December -28 -40 13
2017 January -22 -37 14
2017 February -26 -38 12
2017 March -19 -38 19
2017 April -24 -43 19
2017 May -17 -40 23
2017 June -17 -37 19
2017 July -20 -36 16
2017 August -30 -39 9
2017 September -24 -37 12
2017 October -32 -41 9
2017 November -29 -41 12
2017 December -27 -43 17
2018 January -24 -39 15
2018 February -30 -44 15
2018 March -38 -50 13
2018 April -25 -43 19
2018 May -15 -40 24
2018 June -3 -36 33
2018 July -7 -33 26
2018 August 1 -31 33
2018 September -11 -36 24
2018 October -11 -34 23
2018 November -27 -39 13
2018 December -14 -36 22
2019 January -8 -33 25
2019 February -14 -31 18
2019 March -22 -33 11
2019 April -29 -31 2
2019 May -10 -25 15
2019 June 6 -19 25
2019 July 13 -18 30
2019 August 19 -13 33
2019 September 10 -21 31
2019 October 10 -18 29
2019 November 3 -20 23
2019 December -21 -30 9
2020 January -39 -38 -2
2020 February -50 -46 -4
2020 March -29 -33 4
2020 April 30 31 -1
2020 May 56 64 -8
2020 June 131 123 9
2020 July 105 39 67
2020 August 96 7 88
2020 September 9 -36 44
2020 October -13 -30 17
2020 November -48 -34 -14
2020 December -45 -28 -17
2021 January -69 -39 -30
2021 February -38 -28 -9
2021 March -42 -28 -13

Increase in number of employed levelling off

The active labour force grew by 24 thousand over the past three months. This is the smallest increase in the past six months. The number of employed grew because there were more unemployed who found work than employed who lost their job and became unemployed (+28 thousand). On the other hand, there were fewer people (171 thousand) who entered the labour market and found work immediately (from inactive to active labour force). In March, this number was smaller than the number of people (177 thousand) who stopped working and left the labour market (from active to inactive labour force). As a result, the active labour force declined by 6 thousand.

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.

Source of original article: Statistics Netherlands (CBS) (www.cbs.nl).
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