Business services monitor: fourth quarter 2007

02/04/2008 09:30

Turnover of business services again increased substantially in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter of 2006. However, there was slightly less turnover growth than in the preceding quarter. The sentiment among these companies remains positive, according to the results from the Business Sentiment Survey of January 2008. Their judgements are still positive and they are optimistic in their expectations for the first quarter of 2008. Optimism has reigned for almost 2 years.

Growth rate slightly lower

In the fourth quarter, turnover of Business services increased by more than 8 percent when compared to the same period in 2006. The growth rate was a shade lower than in the previous quarter. Nevertheless, business services may look back upon a good year in which they achieved 10 percent more turnover than in 2006. In 2007, temp agencies again provided the highest turnover growth. Legal, economic and computer services also contributed significantly to the growth of business services. Advertising agencies, on the other hand, concluded the year 2007 with a 1 percent decrease in turnover.

Year-on-year turnover changes

Year-on-year turnover changes

Demand for new staff remains strong

There is still a great demand for new staff in business services. In the fourth quarter of 2007, 46 thousand vacancies were created, and a similar number of vacancies was filled. Nevertheless, the branch seems to experience slightly more difficulty in finding the right staff, because the number of unoccupied vacancies has increased in 2007. At the end of 2007, 48 thousand jobs could not be filled, 5 thousand more than a year earlier. Legal and economic services, architects and engineering companies once again were the branches with the greatest demand for new staff. Companies belonging to these branches were responsible for almost half of all open vacancies in business services.

Number of new and filled vacancies 

Number of new and filled vacancies

Positive opinions

The Business sentiment survey of January 2008 shows that companies in the business services sector are still in a very positive frame of mind. Besides the growth in turnover, companies reported that they received more orders in the fourth quarter of 2007 than in the third. Their opinion on orders received is still very positive and has improved slightly this quarter. According to business service entrepreneurs, selling prices increased in the fourth quarter of 2007. The number of employees increased as well. Their assessment of the economic climate can still be considered very positive. The positive sentiment among companies in this sector reached its peak in the second quarter of 2007 and has remained stable ever since.

Opinions on orders received and economic climate

Opinions on orders received and economic climate

Rise in turnover and increase of work force expected

Business services companies remain positive in their expectations for the first quarter of 2008. They anticipate increasing orders, on balance 43 percent of all companies in business services expect to receive more orders. Also, half of the companies expect a rise of selling prices in the coming months. Therefore a further increase in turnover in the first quarter is foreseen. The entrepreneurs are very optimistic with respect to future personnel, 38 percent expect to hire while only 8 percent foresee to fire. Furthermore around 40 percent of the entrepreneurs report that a lack of personnel can become an impediment for their business activities.

Expectations for the first quarter of 2008 

Expectations for the first quarter of 2008