Unemployment in Netherlands halved since 2014

looking for a job. (Picture: Twitter/@TheBaxterBean)

In March 3.9 percent of the Netherlands' labor force were unemployed, compared to 4.1 percent in February. That is still above the unemployment level before the financial crisis in 2008, but the percentage halved since early in 2014, when unemployment peaked at 7.8 percent, Statistics Netherlands reported on Thursday.

Last month more than 8.7 million people between the ages of 15 and 75 years had paid work. That number increased by an average of 20 thousand per month over the past three months.

Over 4.2 million people did not have paid work for various reasons. 375 thousand of them indicated that they searched for work recently and are available to start immediately - the International Labor Organization's definition of unemployment. In March 3.8 percent of men and 4.1 percent of women in the Netherlands' labor force were unemployed. 

The other 3.9 million non-workers are not considered unemployed, because they are not actively searching for work or aren't available to start working immediately. Their number decreased by an average of 3 thousand per month over the past three months, according to the stats office.

Benefits agency UWV paid 327 thousand active unemployment benefits in March, a decrease of 0.7 percent compared to February. Over the first three months of this year, UWV issued 100 thousand new unemployment benefits, and 103 thousand active benefits were canceled. Over half of the canceled benefits were active for less than 6 months.

Minister Wouter Koolmees of Social Affairs and Employment pointed out that the unemployment rate is below 4 percent for the first time in nearly ten years. "The joint challenge now is to ensure that people who are still looking for work find a suitable place. For example through re- and extra training. Especially in the sectors where shortages are looming, such as construction and healthcare."