Number of job seekers highest in 6 years

The number of people looking for a job of twelve hours per week or more reached 883 thousand in the first quarter of 2012, the highest number in the last six years, according to Statistics Netherlands. However, nearly half of people ready to work were not actively looking for a job or were not immediately available for the labour market.

The 883 thousand people seeking paid employment constitute the so-called "unused labour force," made up of people who do not work at all or work less than 12 hours a week, but have indicated that they prefer to work 12 hours a week or more.

Among the unused labour force, almost half of them (399 thousand) were not immediately available to work or were not actively looking. The remaining 484 thousand are defined as unemployed, i.e. they can start within a 2 weeks and are actively looking for work. The number of unemployed varies according to the economic situation, while the number of other people ready to work remains fairly stable aside from some seasonal fluctuations.

Of the 399 thousand job seekers not categorised as unemployed, 170 thousand of them were not immediately available to work in the first quarter of 2012. Over two thirds of these people are aged 15 to 45 years. Nearly 230 thousand people ready to work were indeed available, but had not actively looked for a job in the past four weeks.

Most job seekers in the 55-65 age bracket can start immediately, but are less active job seekers; older people tend to be more pessimistic about their chances on the labour market.

Twice as many women as men are ready to work but are either not immediately available or not actively looking for a job. Mothers living with a partner constitute the largest group, at nearly 100 thousand women.

Perhaps not surprisingly, single mothers are more likely to be unable to start a new job immediately. Three in 10 single mothers ready to work are not immediately available versus two in ten mothers living with a partner.

This follows recent news that the unemployment rate is at its highest level in over six years. The Netherlands has officially entered recession since the end of last year.

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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