Crisis deepens, official jobless total rises

The number of claims for unemployment benefit (ww) is going up by ‘thousands’ a week social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner said during a parliamentary debate on the credit crisis on Wednesday.

Over the first two weeks of this year, the number of new claims has reached around 26,000, the minister said. The normal rate is around 5,000 a week.
And new figures from the national statistics office CBS on Thursday also show that unemployment is beginning to rise. Between October and December an average of 285,000 people were officially without work, slightly up on the previous quarter.
Three years of decline
This brings three years of declining unemployment figures to an end, the CBS said.
Over 2008 as a whole, an average of just over 300,000 people were officially jobless out of a working population of 7.4 million, the CBS said.
Meanwhile, some 60% of the money set aside to allow companies to temporarily lay off staff has been spent, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Thursday, quoting social affairs ministry documents.
By January 15, 352 companies had been given permission to lay off staff or cut their hours for a period of up to 24 weeks. Companies have to prove their turnover has gone down by at least 30% because of the credit crisis to qualify. Of those firms, 140 are in the engineering sector, the paper said.

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