economic situation more or less stable

According to Statistics Netherlands’ Business Cycle Tracer, the economic situation in January 2015 is about the same as in December, but the economic recovery is still fragile. In the period summer 2013-spring 2014, the economy improved gradually, but since then the recovery process has come to a standstill.

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 during the past month or quarter.

Mood among consumers hardly changes, producer confidence less positive

The mood among Dutch consumers hardly changed in January. Producer confidence, on the other hand, decreased marginally due to the fact that producers were less positive about their future output. But they were more optimistic about their order books and about stocks of finished products than in the previous month. All three component indicators are positive. Producer and consumer confidence are also above their long-term average.

Exports and household consumption up, investments marginally down

The volume of exports of goods was up by approximately 5 percent in November 2014 from November 2013. Re-exports mainly contributed to the growth, exports of Dutch products remained more or less stable. Dutch companies exported more transport vehicles (e.g. cars), agricultural products, metal and metal products, machinery and equipment than twelve months previously. 

Consumer spending on goods and services was 0.6 percent up in November 2014 from November 2013. Consumers spent more on household appliances and home furnishing articles. They also bought more bicycles at the end of the year, because in 2014 an arrangement to the effect that employers make a financial contribution, if employees purchase a bicycle to travel between home and work, was abolished. Dutch consumers spent more on public transport, in restaurants and on hairdressers, telephone services and insurance premiums.

Investments in tangible fixed assets were 0.4 percent lower in November 2014 than in November 2013. The modest decrease is mainly caused by lower investments in cars, infrastructural projects and computers. In November 2013, more cars were sold, because legislation effective since 1 January 2014 could lead to a higher tax rate on cars and motorcycles (BPM).More company cars were bought at the end of 2013 to evade the higher tax rates.

Year-on-year manufacturing output slightly up

The average daily output generated by Dutch manufacturing industry was 0.6 percent higher in November 2014 than in November 2013. The growth figure was affected negatively, because a considerable part of the productive capacity of the tobacco industry was lost.

More people unemployed in December

Unemployment started to climb again in December after having been stable in the preceding three months. In the period May-August, unemployment had fallen noticeably. In December, 8.1 percent in the labour force were unemployed. According to Statistics Netherlands, the number of unemployed was the same in 2014 as in 2013.

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

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, but the number of jobs in the sector health care and welfare and the construction sector fell significantly.

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 employment contracts, e.g. secondment or payrolling.

Economic growth still fragile

According to the second estimate of economic growth, the Dutch economy grew by 0.1 percent in the third quarter of 2014 relative to the second quarter. This marginal growth was the result of more exports and – to a lesser extent – higher investments. Seasonal and calendar effects have been incorporated in the quarter-on-quarter growth figures.

The Dutch economy has now shown two consecutive quarters of modest growth, following contraction in the first quarter. The net result is that the economy was doing better at the end of September 2014 (0.4 percent) than at the end of 2013, although the recovery is still fragile. Compared to the economic boom during the first six months of 2008, the Dutch economy still 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 investments and a higher household consumption level. 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.