Dutch employment crisis: More job vacancies than unemployed

Dutch employment crisis: More job vacancies than unemployed

The latest figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) expose the extent of the Dutch employment crisis, revealing that in the second quarter of 2021, job vacancies in the Netherlands outnumbered the number of unemployed.

Job vacancies and unemployment levels in the Netherlands

While many were left concerned about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Dutch economy and labour market, figures from CBS confirm that the financial aid from the Dutch government not only prevented thousands of redundancies, but has actually led to another crisis altogether. 

Unemployment has been falling and the number of vacancies has been steadily rising since mid-2020, but peaked this year between April and June, when there were 106 job vacancies for every 100 unemployed people. In this period, there were 327.000 jobs available - the highest number ever recorded in the Netherlands. At the end of the second quarter, there were 39 vacancies for every 1.000 jobs in the Dutch labour market - the highest figure ever recorded by CBS. 

The jobs available in trade, business services, and the Dutch healthcare sector account for half of all vacancies in the Netherlands. The catering industry has also been severely affected by the pandemic, with the total number of vacancies in this sector doubling to 27.000 in the second quarter; at the end of June, there were 82 vacancies for every 1.000 jobs in this sector.

Impact of coronavirus on the Dutch labour market

"We have not seen this in 50 years," says Peter Hein van Mulligen, chief economist at CBS. He explains how this shortage has been brought about by coronavirus and a fall in immigration, as many EU migrant workers returned to their home countries last spring

Van Mulligen also emphasises the impact of government aid in preventing bankruptcies and redundancies: “[There are] jobs in companies that would have gone bankrupt without the support. Now people stay in those jobs, while they would otherwise have become unemployed.” 

Labour economist Siemen van der Werff also points out that the Netherlands’ struggle with an ageing population has led to an increase in shortages over the past few years - an issue that was only exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. As for solving the growing issue? “We can look at the level of wages, attracting labour migrants, retraining and letting part-time employees work more hours,” Van der Werff says.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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