Unemployment falls sharply in Netherlands

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In August unemployment in the Netherlands dropped to its lowest rate since August 2012, Statistics Netherlands announced on Thursday. Last month 521 thousand people in the Netherlands were unemployed. That is 5.8 percent of the workforce, compared to 6 percent in July.

Despite a steady recovery in the unemployment rate since February 2014, when unemployment reached a peak of 7.9 percent of the workforce, the labor market is still far from pre-crisis levels. In August 2008 only 3.6 percent of the Dutch workforce were unemployed.

Over the past months unemployment fell most in the group of workers age 45 and older. In the past six months that group was responsible for almost half of the decline in unemployment.

Unemployment benefits were also lower in August than in previous months. Benefits agency UWV paid about 427 thousand benefits end August, about 5 thousand less than in July.

Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs and Employment called it "wonderful figures" in a reaction. "But we are not done yet. These figures give courage to provide an opportunity to especially the people who also want to work in the coming months", he said to news wire ANP.