April saw largest decline in employment in the Netherlands since 2003

April saw largest decline in employment in the Netherlands since 2003

Unemployment rose sharply in April and tens of thousands of people applied for unemployment benefits, according to figures from the Employee Insurance Agency Netherlands (UWV)

Decline in employment worse than during the 2008 financial crisis

The number of people in paid employment in the Netherlands fell by 160.000 in April, to 8,9 million, according to the Dutch National Statistics Bureau (CBS). This is the largest monthly decline in employment since 2003 when employment figures began to be recorded on a monthly basis.

This conveys that unemployment is affecting people to a much larger extent during the coronavirus crisis than during the 2008 financial crisis. The largest group affected is those aged under 25. 

In April, 314.000 unemployed people were registered in the Netherlands, an increase of 41.000. 25.000 of those registered as unemployed in April were under the age of 25. The rest of the people without jobs have not been registered as unemployed by the CBS, however. The statistics office's definition of unemployment is a person resident in the Netherlands with no work who is actively looking for a job and available to start immediately. 

Abrupt rise in people receiving unemployment benefits

"We expected that the increase in April would be more substantial than in March," says Rob Witjes, head of labour market information at the UWV, "but the severity of how it has turned out shows a bleak scenario."

In April, the number of people on unemployment benefits was 292.000, a more dramatic rise than in the 2008 economic crisis. "It is going very abruptly. In the previous crisis, the total number of unemployment benefits increased over a longer period, with 1,000 to 10,000 more people in unemployment every month. Now, we see an increase of 42,000 in one month."

There have been a number of people who stopped their unemployment benefits in April because they found a job. According to Rob Witjes: "People are still finding work, but much less. There are fewer vacancies, which means that the total number of people on unemployment benefits is also increasing sharply."

Rachel Deloughry


Rachel Deloughry

Rachel is a writer, editor and digital content creator, passionate about the arts, culture and lifestyle.

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