Photo description: A job market at the Mercado in Eindhoven, 2010.


The highest unemployment in the European Union during the economic crisis was recorded in 2013. The EU-28 unemployment rate came out at almost 11 percent, with outliers of over 25 percent in Spain and Greece. It was still relatively low in the Netherlands, where the peak was reached only in 2014. By 2017, when unemployment had fallen virtually all across the EU, the Netherlands again had one of the lowest unemployment rates. Which countries saw unemployment fall between 2013 and 2017 and where was unemployment persistently high?

Meetlat-4-werkloosheid_ENG GR ES I T C Y HR FR P T L V FI SK EU L T BE SE IE SI BG EE DK L U A T RO PL NL UK HU M T DE CZ 7.6% 4.9% Un e m pl o y m e n t r a t e , 2017

In 2017, unemployment among the Dutch labour force – 15 to 74 years – stood at 4.9 percent, a rate substantially lower than the EU average of 7.6 percent. Unemployment rates vary widely among the 28 countries of the European Union. By far the highest rates were recorded in Greece and Spain, while the Czech Republic had the lowest rate at 2.9 percent.

In most EU countries, unemployment peaked in 2013 and subsequently declined each year. The EU-28 unemployment rate fell from 10.9 percent (2013) to 7.6 percent (2017). Although Spain recorded the most significant decline, to this day it still has one of the highest unemployment rates within the EU. Relatively the sharpest decline was seen in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria, where it was more than halved between 2013 and 2017.

In the Netherlands, unemployment fell from 7.3 percent (2013) to 4.9 percent (2017) with a temporary rise in 2014. It lagged behind neighbours such as Germany (3.8 percent) and the United Kingdom (4.4 percent). On the other hand, rates were still higher in Belgium, France and the Nordic countries.

Youth unemployment low in the Netherlands

In terms of youth unemployment, the Netherlands has one of the three lowest rates. In 2017, the EU-28 youth unemployment rate stood at 16.8 percent on average, versus 8.9 percent in the Netherlands. However, a relatively large share of the unemployed Dutch youth are in education. Youth unemployment is highest in Greece with 43.6 percent of all 15 to 24‑year-olds in the labour force out of work, followed by Spain and Italy. Rates are lowest in Germany and the Czech Republic at 6.8 and 7.9 percent respectively.

44% youth unemployment in Greece in 2017
9% in the Netherlands


Eurostat – Unemployment rates


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