21 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — The number of jobless increased quicker than anticipated last year as new figures from the Centre for Work and Income (CWI) indicated on Monday that there were 678,500 job seekers registered in the Netherlands at the end of December.
The revised figure comes after the CWI calculated just one month ago that there were only 675,000 unemployed job seekers, having previously raised its estimates twice in 2003.
The employment agency said in November that it expected between 665,000 to 670,000 people would be out of work by the end of the year. This was a significant rise on its forecast at the start of 2003, when it said the Dutch nation will have 645,000 jobless workers come 2004.
By the end of last year, the Netherlands had 131,200 more jobless workers than compared with the end of 2002, news agency ANP reported.
The Netherlands has suffered from an economic malaise in recent years and actually slipped into a nine-month recession last year. But the economy turned for the better when it recorded a small rise in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the third quarter.
But faced with a growing budget deficit, the cost-cutting government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende is slashing EUR 5.7 billion from the 2004 Budget as part of its 17 billion austerity package aimed at cutting the deficit to about 0.5 percent of GDP in 2007.
Meanwhile, the latest figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) — which uses a different unemployment measurement than the CWI — also indicated a strong rise in unemployment last year.
The CBS said there were on average 416,000 unemployed workers in the last quarter of 2003, a rise of 100,000 compared with the same period in 2002.
It also said 5.5 percent of the Dutch workforce was unemployed in the last quarter of 2003, compared with 4.2 percent in the months of October, November and December in 2002. The CBS said 6.3 percent of women and 5.0 percent of men were unemployed.
The jobless figure released by the CBS differs from the CWI estimate because the CBS counts all unemployed workers who are looking for a job of 12 hours per week or more. The CWI counts every registered unemployed job seeker.
According to the CWI, the number of jobless people increased by 24 percent in 2003. It said young people aged between 23 and 26 and workers older than 57.5 were especially looking for a job. The unemployed figures rose by 31 and 37 percent respectively.
Ethnic minorities fared relatively well last year, recording a moderate 16 percent rise in unemployment. But the CWI also said that expressed as a percentage of the population, the number of unemployed job-seeking migrants is still three times higher than the Dutch average.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news