Reflecting a growing global trend, in the second quarter of 2021, the number of job vacancies in the Netherlands outpaced the number of unemployed workers in the country.
A Growing Crisis
According to research released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) - an autonomous administrative authority which performs public service tasks but operates independently and not under the direct authority of a Dutch ministry - there were 106 vacancies for every 100 unemployed in Q2.
Unemployment has been falling and the number of vacancies has been steadily rising since mid-2020, but peaked this year between April and June. There were 327,000 jobs available - the highest number ever recorded in the Netherlands. At the end of the second quarter, there were 39 vacancies for every 1,000 jobs in the Dutch labour market - the highest figure ever recorded by CBS.
Unemployment fell sharply among young people in particular while a strong increase in employment was recorded in this group.
The jobs available in trade, business services, and the Dutch healthcare sector account for half of all vacancies in the Netherlands. The catering industry has also been severely affected by the pandemic, with the total number of vacancies in this sector doubling to 27,000 in the second quarter; at the end of June.
Lack of Immigrant Labor, Covid
"We have not seen this in 50 years," Peter Hein van Mulligen, chief economist at CBS told Dutch public broadcaster NOS. He explained how this shortage has been brought about by coronavirus and a fall in immigration, as many EU migrant workers returned to their home countries last spring.
Van Mulligen also emphasized the impact of government aid in preventing bankruptcies and redundancies: “[There are] jobs in companies that would have gone bankrupt without the support. Now people stay in those jobs, while they would otherwise have become unemployed.”
Labour economist Siemen van der Werff also pointed out that the Netherlands’ struggle with an aging population has led to an increase in shortages over the past few years - an issue that was only exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. As for solving the growing issue? “We can look at the level of wages, attracting labour migrants, retraining and letting part-time employees work more hours,” Van der Werff says.
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