Business services monitor: first quarter 2008

16/06/2008 09:30

Business services may again look back on a good quarter. Turnover growth of business services remained at almost the same level as in the fourth quarter of 2007. The sentiment among these companies remains positive, according to the results from the Business Sentiment Survey of April 2008. Their judgements are still positive, but have slightly weakened in the first quarter. The entrepreneurs are optimistic in their expectations for the second quarter of 2008. Optimism has now reigned for almost 2 years.

Turnover growth equal to last quarter

In the first quarter, turnover of business services increased by 8 percent compared to the same period in 2007. Development of turnover in the various sectors of business services showed a different picture. Temp agencies again realized the highest turnover growth in the first quarter, although growth rates decreased continually during the last four quarters. This, however, is fairly common after a prolonged period of economic growth. For cleaning agencies, turnover growth doubled compared to the previous quarter. Advertising agencies, which closed 2007 with turnover declining, achieved a small turnover growth in the first quarter of 2008.

Year-on-year turnover changes

Year-on-year turnover changes

High number of vacancies

In the first quarter of 2008, 48 thousand vacancies were created in business services. At the same time 50 thousand people found a new job in business services. Nevertheless, this industry experienced difficulties in finding personnel, because the number of unoccupied vacancies was higher than in the previous year. At the end of the first quarter almost 53 thousand positions were vacant. This entails an increase of 2 thousand compared to the same period in 2007. 

Number of new and filled vacancies

number of new and filled vacancies 

Still positive opinions

Results from the Business Sentiment Survey of April 2008 show that confidence among companies in the business services sector is slightly weakened. Besides the growth in turnover, companies reported receiving more orders in the first quarter of 2008 than in the preceding quarter. Their opinion on orders received is still very positive, but slightly less so this quarter. According to the entrepreneurs, selling prices increased in the first quarter of 2008. The number of people employed increased as well. Their assessment of the economic climate has weakened somewhat in the first quarter. The positive sentiment among companies in this sector seems to have weakened in the first quarter.

Opinions on orders received and economic climate

Opinions on orders received and economic climate

Rise in turnover and increase of workforce expected

The entrepreneurs are positive in their expectations for the second quarter of 2008.  They anticipate increasing orders, on balance nearly 23 percent of all companies in business services expect to receive more orders. A rise of selling prices coming months is expected as well. Therefore a further increase in turnover in the second quarter is foreseen by the entrepreneurs. With respect to future employment the entrepreneurs are very optimistic, 26 percent expect to increase their workforce, while only 5 percent foresee a decrease. Furthermore around 40 percent of the entrepreneurs report that a lack of workers may become an obstruction for activities.

Expectations for the second quarter of 2008

Expectations for the second quarter of 2008