Unemployment rate falls and job vacancies rise as economy opens up

There are more jobs in the hospitality sector. Photo: DutchNews.nl
There are more jobs in the hospitality sector. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The Dutch official unemployment rate fell to 3.6% in the first three months of 2021, due to a combination of more people finding work, and an increase in people stopping looking for work altogether, the national statistics agency CBS said on Tuesday.

The official rate had reached a pandemic high of 4.6% last August, but has been falling steadily since then.

In the first quarter, there were 73 vacancies per 100 unemployed, compared with 57 per 100 at the end of last year, the CBS said. This shows that it is becoming harder for companies in some sectors to attract staff, the agency said.

By the end of March there were 245,000 jobs open in the Netherlands, a rise of 26,000 on the end of last year and the biggest increase since 1999, the CBS said. Most vacancies were in trade, business services and healthcare, but there were also 6,000 jobs open in the hospitality sector.

‘It would appear that companies, including cafes and bars, are seeing positive signs,’ chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen told broadcaster NOS. ‘By the end of March they were already looking at what personnel they would need for spring and summer, when more will be possible.’

Job losses due to coronavirus have been limited by the government support packages, in particular those which have helped employers pay wages during the crisis.

The figures also show than of the nine million people with a job, 1.7 million had a flexible or short-term contract. That is down 122,000 on the same period in 2020.

The CBS said in April that the unemployment figure in March itself was 3.5%.

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