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These are the first labour force figures based on a new measurement method which brings unemployment and labour participation to higher levels than under the old method. In order to allow comparison over time, the figures for previous years have been recalculated.

In December, 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 slightly higher in December

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 August 2020, the unemployment rate rose from 4.0 to 5.5 percent. This was followed by almost continuous decline, to 3.8 percent of the labour force (i.e. 369 thousand unemployed) in December last year; slightly higher than in November, when it was 3.7 percent.

More unemployed emerged with the new measurement method

Following a new EU regulation, CBS has adjusted the way it measures the labour force. From today onwards, CBS will publish labour force figures on the basis of the new measurement method. This method leads not only to more unemployed but also to more employed persons. Furthermore, it has resulted in greater divergence between the number of unemployed and the number of unemployment (WW) benefits. Under the new system, the unemployment rate in December stood at 3.8 percent. According to the old method this would have been 2.8 percent. According to both methods, unemployment fell substantially throughout 2021.

Unemployment and unemployment benefits
2012 January 595 292
2012 February 586 299
2012 March 593 296
2012 April 618 292
2012 May 609 291
2012 June 609 291
2012 July 623 298
2012 August 620 304
2012 September 634 304
2012 October 644 310
2012 November 655 322
2012 December 676 340
2013 January 692 369
2013 February 707 377
2013 March 728 380
2013 April 734 380
2013 May 747 378
2013 June 766 382
2013 July 782 395
2013 August 783 399
2013 September 783 400
2013 October 782 408
2013 November 772 419
2013 December 779 438
2014 January 786 460
2014 February 800 460
2014 March 794 454
2014 April 787 443
2014 May 775 436
2014 June 757 431
2014 July 746 437
2014 August 738 430
2014 September 733 420
2014 October 738 419
2014 November 742 425
2014 December 753 441
2015 January 760 458
2015 February 747 455
2015 March 745 443
2015 April 743 427
2015 May 732 416
2015 June 725 410
2015 July 708 420
2015 August 708 420
2015 September 712 417
2015 October 722 421
2015 November 703 427
2015 December 695 446
2016 January 680 465
2016 February 688 469
2016 March 680 470
2016 April 679 461
2016 May 668 448
2016 June 656 438
2016 July 648 432
2016 August 628 427
2016 September 617 424
2016 October 609 420
2016 November 607 410
2016 December 590 412
2017 January 588 419
2017 February 582 416
2017 March 571 415
2017 April 563 401
2017 May 564 386
2017 June 555 372
2017 July 544 364
2017 August 534 362
2017 September 529 351
2017 October 511 343
2017 November 504 337
2017 December 503 330
2018 January 487 335
2018 February 474 330
2018 March 465 327
2018 April 463 314
2018 May 460 301
2018 June 463 288
2018 July 458 279
2018 August 463 278
2018 September 451 274
2018 October 444 269
2018 November 433 267
2018 December 437 263
2019 January 437 279
2019 February 419 274
2019 March 416 268
2019 April 409 257
2019 May 411 251
2019 June 423 243
2019 July 424 234
2019 August 432 237
2019 September 432 233
2019 October 432 233
2019 November 434 228
2019 December 409 223
2020 January 390 241
2020 February 383 240
2020 March 388 250
2020 April 427 292
2020 May 439 301
2020 June 513 301
2020 July 532 301
2020 August 533 292
2020 September 519 278
2020 October 509 278
2020 November 485 276
2020 December 476 286
2021 January 448 289
2021 February 450 286
2021 March 439 282
2021 April 427 266
2021 May 419 250
2021 June 405 238
2021 July 393 224
2021 August 406 213
2021 September 399 208
2021 October 382 199
2021 November 359 189
2021 December 369 192

UWV: more WW benefits in December

From November to December 2021, the number of WW benefits increased by 2.5 thousand, ending at nearly 192 thousand by the end of December. The number of WW benefits tends to increase during the winter period in seasonally sensitive sectors. For example, in December the number of WW benefits rose by 25 percent in construction and by 15 percent in agriculture. An increase was also seen in accommodation, food and catering services (11 percent) and among employment agencies (9 percent). It is likely that the tightening of measures limiting contact between people as of late November 2021 plays a role here.

UWV: more WW benefits among people under 25 in particular

The number of current WW benefits mainly rose among young people (under the age of 25). Between end of November and end of December 2021, this age category saw an increase of almost 1.7 thousand benefits, representing a rise of nearly 25 percent. Young people relatively often work under temporary contracts and in sectors such as accommodation and food services and temping.

Unemployment continued to fall 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, 369 thousand people were unemployed. Unemployment stood at 399 thousand three months previously, in September. This represents a decline of 30 thousand over this period (10 thousand per month on average). As shown in the above diagram, unemployment may 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, the inflow from the active labour force was smaller than the number of unemployed who found a job, as a result of which unemployment fell by 61 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 31 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 growth was mainly due to a sharp increase in the number of employed who lost their job and a decrease in the number of unemployed who found a job. Unemployment continued to rise through August and September 2020, mainly because people who had not looked for work or were unavailable previously entered the labour market but did not find work 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 relative to 3 months previously and balance of employment inflow and outflow, seasonally adjusted
2018 January -24 -64 40
2018 February -30 -69 39
2018 March -38 -76 38
2018 April -24 -68 44
2018 May -14 -63 49
2018 June -2 -60 59
2018 July -5 -57 52
2018 August 3 -55 59
2018 September -12 -60 48
2018 October -14 -59 45
2018 November -30 -64 34
2018 December -14 -59 45
2019 January -7 -57 50
2019 February -14 -55 41
2019 March -21 -56 36
2019 April -28 -54 26
2019 May -8 -49 40
2019 June 7 -43 49
2019 July 15 -41 57
2019 August 21 -39 60
2019 September 9 -46 55
2019 October 8 -44 52
2019 November 2 -46 48
2019 December -23 -55 32
2020 January -42 -63 21
2020 February -51 -70 18
2020 March -21 -54 33
2020 April 37 6 32
2020 May 56 32 24
2020 June 125 83 42
2020 July 105 14 91
2020 August 94 -18 112
2020 September 6 -62 67
2020 October -23 -59 37
2020 November -48 -59 11
2020 December -43 -52 9
2021 January -61 -60 0
2021 February -35 -52 18
2021 March -37 -52 14
2021 April -21 -47 26
2021 May -31 -51 21
2021 June -34 -55 22
2021 July -34 -60 25
2021 August -13 -52 39
2021 September -6 -43 37
2021 October -11 -44 34
2021 November -47 -65 19
2021 December -30 -61 31

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 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, respondents could no longer be visited at home from mid-December onwards, and were therefore less likely to participate. The effect of this has been estimated based on models and therefore the accuracy of the December figures is slightly lower than normal.

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