Business services monitor: fourth quarter of 2008

16/03/2009 15:00

Turnover growth of business services again levelled off in the fourth quarter of 2008. In advertising agencies, turnover decreased because many firms cut back on their advertising costs. Entrepeneurs of business services have become more pessimistic in their expectations for the first quarter of 2009 than in the previous quarters.

Only advertising agencies in the red

Despite the dip in economic growth, business services still realized nearly 5 percent increase of turnover compared to the fourth quarter of 2007. However, for the second quarter in a row turnover growth was lower than in the previous quarter. Advertising agencies experienced the consequences of the downturn in the economy. Because enterprises reduced their advertising budgets, the turnover of advertising agencies fell by almost 4 percent. The other business services all realized turnover growth. Turnover growth of temp agencies again emerged at a lower level. Due to the economic downturn in the fourth quarter, many companies bid their temporary employees farewell. Over 2008 as a whole, business services realized a turnover growth of 7 percent.

Year-on-year turnover changes

Year-on-year turnover changes

Fewer new vacancies

Demand for new personnel decreased in the fourth quarter of 2008. The number of new vacancies decreased by a fifth to 39 thousand compared to a year earlier. The biggest decline occurred in legal and economic services, and architects and engineers. Only in cleaning services did the number of new vacancies remain unmodified compared to the fourth quarter of 2007. The number of vacant positions also declined last year. At the close of 2008, 40,400 positions were still open. A year earlier this number had reached 52,800.

Number of new and filled vacancies

Number of new and filled vacancies

Economic climate changes for the worse

Results from the Business Sentiment Survey of January 2009 show that optimism among entrepreneurs in Business Services has shrunk substantially. According to entrepeneurs, the work force has diminished in the fourth quarter. The sentiment about the current economic climate for enterprises has worsened notably during the fourth quarter.

Opinions on the economic climate

Opinions on the economic climate

Increase in prises expected

For the first quarter of 2009, entrepeneurs are more pessimistic in their expectations than in previous quarters. On balance, 13 percent of the entrepeneurs expected a decline in turnover in the first quarter of 2009. But one third of the entrepeneurs expected higher selling prices for that quarter. Business services are much more cautious regarding the future workforce. About 12 percent expect an expansion, while 31 percent foresee a decrease. Of all entrepeneurs in business services, 32 percent experience insufficient demand for services as an impediment for commercial activities.

Expectations for the first quarter of 2009

Expectations for the first quarter of 2009