Competition for qualified staff heats up with strongest labor figures since crisis

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In the fourth quarter of 2017 the number of jobs in the Netherlands increased by 57 thousand, the number of vacancies rose by 14 thousand and the number of unemployed people in the country decreased by 29 thousand. These are the strongest labor figures the Netherlands has seen since the financial crisis, Statistics Netherlands reported on Wednesday based on the latest quarterly figures on the labor market.

As the number of vacancies increases, and the number of unemployed decreases, the tension on the labor market is on the rise, according to the stats office. In the last quarter of last year, there were an average of 1.8 unemployed persons available per open vacancy. As a result, Statistics Netherlands can now describe the Dutch labor market as "tense" for the first time since the economic boom of 2007-2008. That means that the demand for labor is above average and the available supply is relatively low. 

The number of jobs increased by 57 thousand in the fourth quarter of 2017 - the largest increase since the first quarter of 2008. The number of jobs in the Netherlands has grown steadily four almost four years in a row. 

At the end of December there were 227 thousand open vacancies in the Netherlands - 14 thousand more than in the third quarter, and 56 thousand more than in the last quarter of 2016. The number of vacancies has now grown continuously for 4.5 years. The Netherlands now counts over two and a half times more vacancies than in mid-2013, the lowest point in the vacancy numbers. In 2008 the number of vacancies peaked at 249 thousand.

Adjusted for seasonal influences, the Netherlands counted 398 thousand unemployed people. These are people who are actively looking for work and available to start immediately - the unemployment definition of the International Labor Organization. That amounts to 4.4 percent of the Dutch labor force being unemployed - the lowest percentage since the second quarter of 2009. 

The number of people in long-term unemployment - people who have been looking for work for a year or more - also decreased. Last quarter 138 thousand people were in long-term unemployment, 56 thousand less than the fourth quarter of 2016. 

In the fourth quarter there were more workers who were still unemployed in the three months before than unemployed people who had work three months earlier. 112 thousand unemployed found a paid job, while 71 thousand people became unemployed.