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Unemployment continued to rise sharply in March, according to the latest figures released by Statistics Netherlands. Seasonally adjusted, joblessness rose by 30,000 last month to a total of 643,000.
The unemployment rate reached 8.1% in the month, up from 7.7% in February. Three months earlier, 7.2% of the labour force were out of work. In the first quarter of 2013, another 24,000 people per month became unemployed.
In the last three months, the increase in unemployment was strongest among the 25 to 44-year-olds. In this age group an average of 11,000 people per month became unemployed. Unemployment among those aged over 45 rose by 8,000 a month. Among people aged under 25, this figure rose by a monthly 4,000.
The number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 to 380,000 in March. In total, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by +0.8% in March 2013. The increase was above average among those aged over 45.
The number of benefit claimants rose sharply in the trade and health and welfare sectors. But in sectors relying on more seasonal workers, such as agriculture, construction, hotels and restaurants, the number of benefits dropped.
The Dutch economy slid back into recession in the fourth quarter, but is expected to return to a modest growth in the second half of 2013.