Unemployment fell again in December, though more WW benefits

In December, despite the start of the lockdown, fewer people were unemployed than in the months before. The Central Bureau of Statistics reports that. At the same time, according to the UWV, the number of WW benefits increased in the same month.

In total, 368,000 people were unemployed, 10,000 less than the month before. In total, 3.9 percent of the workforce was unemployed at the end of the year.

This is the first time that unemployment figures have been recorded over a period that (partly) fell into the hard lockdown. That lockdown, with store closure, went in mid-December.

The number of WW benefits increased in the same month by 9000 for the first time in half a year, which is also common at this time of year, explains the UWV. In winter, part of the construction and agriculture is stationary, resulting in more people applying for benefits.

However, the increase is partly due to the coronacrisis and the second lockdown, says the UWV. As a result, more people were out of work in the hospitality industry and temporary employment sector. There, the number of people in the WW increased by 10 percent.

When is someone considered unemployed?
There

are several reasons why unemployment fell while the number of unemployment benefits increased. For example, CBS corrects the seasonal effects, resulting in less work in construction and agriculture, for example, and the UWV does not do so.

In addition, the UWV measures the state of the number of benefits at the end of the month, while the CBS takes the monthly average for calculating unemployment in December.

What is also important is when the CBS counts someone as unemployed: if you can and want to work, but you dont have a job. Those who are not looking for work or cannot work do not count in that figure.

This means, for example, that cafรฉ-staff who are now out of work and are not looking for other jobs, because all the catering industry is closed, are not officially unemployed. These people can apply for benefits.

Overview of past year

Both unemployment and the number of unemployment benefits were higher last year than the previous year. There were some 66,000 more unemployed in December 2020 than in the same month the previous year. The number of WW benefits was 63,000 higher.

In particular, young people, who are more often in a flex-contract and work in sectors that have been hit hard, entered the WW more frequently. Under the age of 25, their number has even more than doubled.

However, the total figures are still low compared to previous years. What is involved in this are the major economic support packages for companies. They help to prevent entrepreneurs from firing their staff on a large scale and unemployment rises. Through the most important measure, wage support, the salaries of some 1.3 million people were paid in the period October to December.

Partly because of the support packages, fewer companies have also gone bankrupt: in 2020 the lowest number since 2000. Bankruptcies and unemployment often go hand in hand. The Central Planning Bureau expects that this year more companies will fall down and unemployment will rise if government support measures are phased out.