Madness complete on the labor market: staff shortage to record high

The madness in the labor market is complete. There are now 143 vacancies for every 100 unemployed; a new record. The umpteenth. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, more than 80 percent of companies are now faced with a staff shortage.

Many tens of thousands of jobs are open, especially in trade, business services and healthcare. Entrepreneurs see that the workload is increasing, but hardly succeed in doing anything about it. They see with sadness how this also affects the productivity of their company. Forty percent of the companies say they can set up fewer activities. At the beginning of last year this was the case for ‘only’ ten percent.

“Employers are trying to attract extra staff, but they are getting worse and worse,” says chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen of CBS. “They pay higher wages, on average collectively agreed wages have increased by almost four percent. They also hire candidates that they previously did not consider suitable. That five-legged sheep they were looking for turns out to have only four.”

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In the business survey conducted every quarter by Statistics Netherlands – together with the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Institute for Construction and the employers’ organizations VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland – companies have indicated for almost two years in a row that they want to attract more staff. At the beginning of April, for example, a quarter of entrepreneurs said they would increase the number of employees. Less than ten percent succeeded.


This is because the pond in which companies fish is becoming emptier. The average number of unemployed fell by 11,000 to 327,000 in the past quarter, representing 3.3 percent of the workforce. At the same time, the number of new jobs and the number of vacancies are increasing. “There are more people at work than ever,” says Van Mulligen. “But that does not outweigh the hunger for staff. It’s even bigger.”

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In total there were 467,000 vacancies at the end of June, 16,000 more than at the end of the first quarter. Especially in the trade, job seekers can make demands. There are now 100,000 jobs open. In the hospitality industry, the number of open jobs decreased slightly, after the record level in the sector earlier this year. Van Mulligen does not dare to predict whether the shortages will get any bigger. “I would have said before that it probably couldn’t get any crazier. But as long as the economy is catching up, the demand for workers will remain high.” According to him, the Dutch also contribute to it. “Many people spend the money they have hoarded during corona in the catering industry and on holidays. But in doing so, they stimulate the economy and also drive up prices.”

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A small bright spot for employers is that the number of job seekers has increased slightly in the past two months, although this is not yet reflected in the quarterly figure. This is probably because more young people are entering the labor market and people who had no hope of a job are also trying again.

The number of Dutch people with a flexible contract is growing steadily. At the end of June there were 2.8 million, 85,000 more than at the end of the first quarter. The number of self-employed people has also increased: Statistics Netherlands counted 1.5 million, 31,000 more than at the end of March.

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