Joblessness falls, but long-term unemployed not entering workforce

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Unemployment in the Netherlands continues to decline, according to figures released by Statistics Netherlands on Thursday. Most of the decline can be attributed to the age group 25 to 45 years, where unemployment has been falling almost continually for two years. People in long-term unemployment are still struggling to reenter the workforce.

Last month there were 560 thousand unemployed people in the Netherlands, about 6.3 percent of the total workforce. Over the past three months, the number of unemployed fell by an average of 7 thousand per month. Compared to May last year, there were 57 thousand fewer unemployed last month.

According to Statistics Netherlands, there are 12.8 million people between the ages of 15 and 75 living in the Netherlands. Last month 65.7 percent of them, or 8.4 million people, had paid work. The other almost 4.5 million people had no paid work. 3.8 million of them are not currently looking of available for work. The other 560 thousand are looking for work, but can not find any and are thus classified as unemployed.

At the end of May benefits agency UWV was paying 448 thousand benefits. In the first five months of the year, the agency paid 210 thousand new benefits, almost 30 thousand fewer than in the same period last year.

Just over half of the people receiving welfare benefits would like to go beck to work. The almost half that don't want to name illness or disability as the biggest reasons, according to Statistics Netherlands based on a study among people living on benefits in 2014. Almost everyone (93 percent) on unemployment benefits want to go back to work.

The desire to go back to work was least among people receiving an work-disability benefit. According to the statistics office, only a fifth of them wanted to start working again.

Among the people who are not working and do not receive any benefits, only about 40 percent want to start working. The rest don't want to because they're busy with studies, on pension or can't combine it with caring for family members.