Strong rise in Dutch jobless rate
20 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch unemployment increased strongly in the period between November and January, rising to 444,000 or about 5.9 percent of the working population, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said.
The number of unemployed workers is 126,000 higher than the same period a year ago, when 4,3 percent of the 7 million-strong workforce were without a job, the CBS said on Thursday.
The rise in the jobless numbers occurred across all sectors of the workforce and the unemployment rate for both men and women, in all age groups, increased. In total, 5.4 percent of men are unemployed and 6.6 percent of women are jobless.
The Dutch economy experienced a nine-month recession last year and despite signs of an economic recovery — recording positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the last two quarters of 2003 — the economy finished 0.8 percent down for the full 12 months.
Faced with the grim economic climate, the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 has cut EUR 5.7 billion from the 2004 Budget and has unveiled a EUR 17 billion savings drive to reduce the budget deficit to 0.5 percent of GDP in 2004.
More budget cuts are expected in the spring after the Central Planning Bureau (CPB) recently forecast that the deficit could hit 3.3 percent, breaching the tough budget rules as set out in the eurozone’s stability pact.
Breaching the pact would be a major embarrassment for the Netherlands, which lost a battle last year to penalize Germany and France for running continued budget deficits above the 3 percent limit outlined in the pact.
Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm was criticised last year for placing too much focus on reducing the deficit instead of stimulating the economy to create jobs. Concerns have also been raised for low-income earners in the Netherlands.
Unemployment trends generally lag behind economic movements, helping to account for the continued rise in jobless numbers despite the economic upturn.
Taking into account seasonal factors, the number of jobless workers in the three-month period between November and January totaled 458,000, news agency ANP reported.
The CBS moves its three-month comparative period forward by one month each month and said on Thursday that in the past six months, an average of 10,000 more people have lost their job each month.
Meanwhile, figures from the Centre for Work and Income (CWI) — which uses a different measurement method to determine jobless figures — also showed a strong rise in Dutch unemployment.
It said that the number of unemployed job seekers rose by 3.9 percent to 705, 200. The largest rise (6.8 percent) took place among youths under the age of 23. There was just a 1.6 percent rise in the unemployment of those aged 57 and above.
The CBS figures are based on the number of jobless workers actively seeking a job of 12 hours or more, while the CWI — the Dutch employment agency — includes every registered unemployed job seeker.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news