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Dutch unemployment growth slowing with economic recovery04 February 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
Unemployment in the Netherlands will grow again this year, but much more slowly than in previous years, according to the labour market forecast from Dutch social security agency UWV.
While economic figures show that the Dutch economy is improving, the labour market is not yet benefiting from the recovery.
The UWV forecasts that 66.000 jobs will disappear in 2014: a large number, but much smaller than the 143.000 jobs that were lost in 2013. Last year's figure, a record high for unemployment numbers, was due in part to tens of thousands of job losses in the government and healthcare sectors.
The continued job losses in 2014 will be partly offset, however, by a further increase in the numbers of self-employed people. The UWV expects that there will be 32.000 more self-employed workers in 2014, following on from the larger increase of 54.000 in 2013.
The only areas of clear employment growth are in temporary employment bureaus, freelancers and wholesale trade.
Dutch employers still cautious
Rob Witjes, head of labour market information for UWV, said that because the crisis has lasted so long, it may take even longer for the labour market to recover, as employers are cautious about taking on new staff.
An economic improvement of 0,5 per cent is fragile, he said, and most companies are still in a "reset" phase, examining how they can operate more intelligently, rather than expand their staff. "Digitisation continues and everything is focused on cost control," Witjes said.
One example of this is industry, which despite benefiting from the upturn in world trade, will still shed 8.000 jobs this year due to investments in labour-saving techniques, undertaken in order to remain competitive with other countries.
Another is the construction sector, which while it is expected to recover slightly due in part to lower house prices and mortgage rates in the Netherlands, will only seen a slow-down in job losses.
Largest losses in government jobs
The sharp contraction in public sector employment continues in 2014, as half of the total 66.000 jobs expected to go are in government.
The large losses in the healthcare sector last year will continue this year, thanks to new legislation on funding long-term healthcare that will cut jobs in elderly and home care.
Labour market will slowly improve
UWV did have some good news, however: there are still opportunities this year in the labour market. The slight revival in the economy meant that the numbers of jobs increased by 80.000 to a total of nearly 700.000.
While that number is far below the record one million jobs before the crisis, it does mean that there will definitely be more movement in the labour market this year, which makes 2014 a good time to start at least looking for a new job in the Netherlands, just in case.