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Long-term unemployment down in the Netherlands

Staff Writer |
In 2016, long-term unemployment fell compared with the previous year. It is the first decline in long-term unemployment since 2009, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports.

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The number of long-term unemployed was also down among the over-55s, albeit less significantly than among younger age groups.

After six years of rising long-term unemployment, the number of long-term jobless declined to 216 thousand in 2016.

This was 259 thousand in 2015. Whereas among the under-55 age groups a modest decline set in one year earlier, among over-55s the number still rose by 12 thousand to a total of 88 thousand long-term unemployed.

Circumstances are similar to the previous period of rising unemployment, more than ten years ago. At the time, the number of older long-term unemployed continued to increase as well.

The difference now is that there are relatively more long-term unemployed over the age of 55. In other age groups, the increase over the past few years was smaller than in the past.

Long-term unemployment refers to people who have not had paid work for 12 months or more but who have been looking for work recently and are currently available for the labour market.

As was the case for long-term unemployment, total unemployment – including both short-term and long-term – among over-55s started falling a year later than among the younger age groups.

On the other hand, unemployment in the older age group started to increase a year later than in the other age groups, in 2010 instead of in 2009.

The unemployment rate started declining in 2016 for male over-55s only; among women in this age group, the rate was still up.

On the other hand, the rise in unemployment over the years 2010-2015 was also higher among men than among women: for women over 55, unemployment did not increase at the same rate as for men over 55.

A slightly different picture emerges when instead of merely measuring the number of unemployed, the total unused labour supply out of work is taken into account.

This includes people who are looking for work but who are not currently available for the labour market, as well as people who are currently available but are not looking for work.

In 2016, for example, there were 22 thousand men and 28 thousand women aged 55 and over who were available for work immediately but who were no longer seeking work since they no longer expected to find a job.

These people, who have given up looking for work, as well as others who have not been actively looking for other reasons or are otherwise not immediately available, are not included in total unemployment.

If these groups are included, there is more similarity between the developments among male and female over-55s.

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