Unemployment drop the best in a decade: Stats office

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2016 saw the biggest drop in unemployment in the Netherlands in 10 years, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. The unemployment rate dropped from 6.6 percent of the workforce in December 2015 to 5.4 percent in December 2016. The last time there was such a big decline in unemployment was in 2006, the statistics office announced on Thursday.

Last month 482 thousand people in the Netherlands were registered as unemployed and seeking work. That is 17 thousand fewer than in November 2016 and amounts to 5.4 percent of the workforce. 

All groups of the workforce - men, women, young people, elderly people - saw a decrease in unemployment. There were fewer unemployed people as well as more workers. The age group 45 years and older were particularly fortunate in finding work last year, some 110 thousand of them found jobs. The unemployment rate among young people also dropped to its lowest level in five years. 

Despite this drop, the unemployment rate is still well above pre-crisis levels. At the end of 2008 only 3.6 percent of the Dutch workforce were unemployed. 

The number of unemployment benefits also decreased significantly, according to benefits agency UWV. At the end of 2016 the agency paid almost 34 thousand fewer unemployment benefits than a year earlier. The strongest decrease came from the construction industry, followed by the temporary employment sector and metal companies. Unemployment benefits increased in the retail sector among chain stores and department stores. That is due to a series of major bankruptcies. 

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