Long-term unemployment increasing in the Netherlands

Overall, unemployment is decreasing in the Netherlands. But research by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) shows that the number of long-term unemployed - defined as individuals who have been out of work for a year or longer - is on the rise.

In the first quarter of 2014, 233.000 people in the Netherlands had been unemployed for at least a year. New figures from early 2015 show that over a year’s time, this number rose to 289.000.

Both men and women going longer without work

As with unemployment in general, long-term unemployment affects slightly more men than women. Of all unemployed men in the Netherlands in 2015, 47 per cent have been without work for a year or longer, as opposed to 35 per cent one year ago. Of these 47 per cent (around 160.000 men) around half are over the age of 45.

In the same period, among unemployed women, the number of those in the "long-term" category swelled from 30 to 40 per cent (or 129.000).

Long-term unemployment in Europe

While these figures are significant, long-term unemployment is relatively low in the Netherlands compared to the rest of Europe.

Dutch long-term unemployment was gauged at three per cent in 2014. The EU average for that year was 5,1 per cent, elevated by the high rates in countries like Greece, where it sits at 19,5 per cent, and Spain, with 12,9 per cent.

Still, a number of other European countries have lower long-term unemployment rates than the Netherlands, including Romania, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Austria and Sweden, among others.

OECD wants intervention

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released a report warning that many people end up trapped in a cycle of chronic unemployment.

Though the Netherlands has made strides in economic recovery, people who graduated during the crisis and struggled to find work lost crucial career-building years. For the most part, claims the OECD, career opportunities are created in the first ten years of a person’s working life.

Meanwhile, older, more experienced workers who were laid off during the crisis struggle to re-enter the labour market.

The OECD is pushing the Dutch government to address key issues faced by the long-term unemployed, or risk a permanent increase in their ranks.

Emily McCallum


Emily McCallum

Emily grew up in a small coastal town in western Canada and moved to Utrecht in 2014, after completing her studies in Vancouver and Germany. So far, she has been...

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