The number of new unemployment benefits in the Netherlands increased significantly in March compared to February, according to figures from benefits agency UWV. Last month UWV paid out 38 thousand new benefits, 11 thousand more than in February and an increase of 42.3 percent.
The number of new benefits increased especially among young people up to the age of 25, an increase of 185 percent. Almost all sectors saw an increase in new unemployment benefits compared to February, but the increases were highest in the hospitality and catering industry (+224 percent), temporary employment agencies (+143 percent), and the cultural sector (+94 percent).
The cultural sector and hospitality industry are hit hard by government measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. And temporary workers are the first to lose their jobs when a company gets into trouble.
The total number of unemployment benefits increased by 4.3 percent to 250 thousand active benefits in March compared to February. Compared to March 2019, the number of benefits is 6.5 percent lower.
The percentage of Netherlands residents with paid work decreased to 69.1 percent in March, showing the strongest decline in six years, Statistics Netherlands reported on Thursday. Though despite March’s decline, the number of people with paid work still increased by an average of 4 thousand per month over the past three months. This is thanks to strong increases in January and February.
Not everyone who lost their job became unemployed. The stats office’s definition of unemployment is someone with no work who is actively looking for a job and available to start immediately. In March many people stopped working, but did not immediately start looking for new work. “As a result, the unemployment rate in March remained unchanged at 2.9 percent,” the stats office said.
Last month, 9 million people in the Netherlands had paid work, and 4 million people did not have paid work for various reasons. 273 thousand were unemployed, 3.8 million were not working and not looking to start working immediately. Their number has increased by an average of 11 thousand a month in the past three months. “This increase is also likely due to the measures taken in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus,” Statistics Netherlands said.