Economic situation remains unchanged

According to Statistics Netherlands’ Business Cycle Tracer, the economic situation in December was about the same as in November. The recovery is still fragile. In the period between summer 2013 and spring 2014, the economy improved gradually but since then the recovery process has come to a standstill. In December improvements and deteriorations cancelled each other out.

Statistics Netherlands’ Business Cycle Tracer is a tool used to monitor the economic situation and economic developments. The Business Cycle Tracer uses a selection of fifteen key macro-economic indicators, which – together - provide a coherent picture of the state of the economy at a particular moment in time.

Business cycle tracer indicator (unweighted average of the fifteen indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer)

Business cycle tracer indicator

Producer confidence further up

The mood among Dutch manufacturers improved further in December. The higher producer confidence level is mainly due to the fact that producers were more positive about their order position. They were also more optimistic about their output over the next three months. 

Consumer confidence remained fairly stable in December. Consumer confidence has been negative since October 2007, but in December is marginally above its long-term average over the past two decades. Producer confidence is also above its long-term average. 

Producer and consumer confidence, seasonally adjusted

Producer and consumer confidence, seasonally adjusted

Exports, investments and household consumption up

The volume of exports of goods was up by more than 5 percent in October 2014 from October 2013. In the preceding month, exports grew by more than 6 percent. Exports of Dutch products and re-exports contributed to the growth. Dutch companies exported more transport vehicles, machinery and equipment than twelve months previously.

The volume of investments was also up. Investments in tangible fixed assets were 5 percent higher in October 2014 than in October 2013. Investments in buildings, infrastructural projects and in machinery and installations were the main contributors to October’s growth. In September, investments grew by 3.5 percent.

Consumer spending on goods and services was 0.2 percent up in October 2014 from October 2013. Consumers spent more on household appliances and home furnishing articles in particular. They also bought more bicycles and motor bikes. Spending on services, accounting for more than half of domestic consumption, grew by 0.7 percent.

Year-on-year manufacturing output slightly up

The average daily output generated by Dutch manufacturing industry was 0.4 percent higher in October 2014 than in October 2013. The growth figure was affected negatively because a considerable part of the productive capacity of the tobacco industry was lost. Most sectors of Dutch manufacturing industry showed positive growth figures.

Slightly more jobs, especially temp jobs

The cautious recovery of the labour market continued in the third quarter of 2014. There was a modest increase in the number of jobs and job vacancies, in particular temp jobs.

The number of unemployed hardly changed in November and has been stable in recent months, but more people found work.

The number of businesses declared bankrupt decreased substantially after a peak in mid-2013, but is still relatively high compared to the pre-recession period. In the first eleven months of 2014, the number of bankruptcies fell by one fifth compared to the same period last year. 

The total number of hours worked in temp jobs has grown further in the third quarter of 2014, mainly due to the rising amount of long-term temporary contracts, e.g. secondment or payrolling.

Gross Domestic Product (seasonally adjusted)

Gross Domestic Product (seasonally adjusted)

Economic growth still fragile

According to the second estimate of economic growth, the Dutch economy grew by 0.1 percent from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2014. This slight growth was the result of increased investment and exports.

The Dutch economy has now shown two consecutive quarters of modest growth, following a contraction in the first quarter. The net result is that the economy was doing better at the end of September 2014 (0.4 percent) then at the end of 2013, although the recovery is still fragile. Compared to the economic boom in the first half of 2008, the Dutch economy contracted 2.4 percent.

Dutch economic growth was 1.0 percent in the third quarter compared to the third quarter of 2013. This growth was mainly accounted for by higher exports, a modest increase in investment and more household consumption. Government consumption was virtually at the same level as last year.

More figures can be found in the Business cycle dossier.

For more information on economic indicators, see the Economic Monitor.