Labour and income - Figures


In 2018, 350 thousand people in the Netherlands were unemployed. The unemployed are defined as people without a paid job who are actively looking and are currently available for work. Unemployment has declined since 2014, when it still affected 660 thousand people, equivalent to 7.4 percent of the labour force; this was down to 3.8 percent by 2018. Unemployment decline is seen across the age groups, although it set in later (2015) in the age group 55 to 64 years. The decline has stagnated among the over-65s as of 2017.

In 2018, 67.8 percent of the Dutch population aged 15 to 74 years were in employment. Nine out of 10 persons in this group work 12 or more hours per week. As for youth employment (ages 15 to 24 years), 4 in 10 work in a small job of less than 12 hours. Labour participation shows a strong decline as of age 64.

Job growth has been substantial over the past four years. In 2018, 260 thousand new jobs were created, the largest increase since 2007. This put the total number of jobs at 10.4 million. 8.3 million of these jobs were taken up by employees and 2.1 million by self-employed. Relative to 1995, the number of jobs has gone up by 30 percent. The share of self-employed jobs has decreased from 21 to 20 percent.

Public administration, education and care account for over one-quarter of all jobs. Most jobs were added in business services last year; half of them were temporary agency work. The majority of all self-employed work in business services. The self-employment rate is highest in agriculture and fisheries. Half of all jobs in this sector are taken up by self-employed workers.

In 2018, nearly half of all employee jobs were occupied by women. In comparison, this share was 42 percent in 1995. Since then, the number of female employees has risen by 51 percent against 19 percent more male employees. At 84 percent, the share of working women is highest in the sector care and lowest in construction at 12 percent. Almost 80 percent of all employee jobs filled by women are part-time jobs.

The percentage share of people active on the Dutch labour market rose further in 2018. Relative to the previous year, both low-skilled and highly skilled participation in the labour force rose. Gross labour participation remained unchanged among the medium-skilled. At both low-skilled and medium-skilled level, gross labour participation was still lower in 2018 than in 2008. On the other hand, labour participation rates in the highly skilled workforce have exceeded pre-crisis levels again.

In 2018, there were almost 3.3 million couples with one or both partners in employment. The most common type are the one-and-a-half-income earners, for example with one partner working on a full-time basis (35 hours or more) and the other on a part-time basis. More and more are large part-time jobs (20 to 35 hours). This share has increased since 2003 from 27 to 36 percent. At the same time, the share of ‘small’ one-and-a-half-income earners (with one partner working less than 20 hours) has decreased. In 2018, the share of single-income families was also considerably lower than fifteen years previously.

In 2018, collectively agreed (CAO) wages rose by 2 percent, whereas consumer prices went up by 1.7 percent. Wage and price movements were more similar in 2017. Consumer price inflation was still far behind the increase in CLA wages in 2016. Over the past four years, the CAO wage increase has remained equal to or above consumer price inflation. The reverse was true in the period 2011–2014, a time of economic crisis, with wage increases lagging behind consumer price developments.


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Opening page and header: © Hollandse Hoogte / Martijn Beekman

Society - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Patricia Rehe

Economy - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Marcel Krijgsman

Labour and income - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Sabine Joosten


Explanation of symbols

. Data not available
* Provisional figure
** Revised provisional figure
x Confidential
(between two whole numbers) up to and including
0 (0.0) The number is smaller than half of the selected unit
empty cell Not applicable
2018–2019 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2018/2019 Average for 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., beginning in 2018 and ending in 2019
2016/’17–2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, etc., 2016/’17 to 2018/’19 inclusive

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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