Economic situation improves somewhat again

According to Statistics Netherlands’ Business Cycle Tracer, the economic situation has improved somewhat again in April 2015 relative to March. In the last two months, the economy also improved. In the period summer 2013-spring 2014, the economy gradually picked up, but since then the recovery process is happening step by step. Economic recovery is slow, but steady.

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.

Business cycle tracer indicator (unweighted average of the 15 indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer)

Producer confidence rises considerably

The mood among Dutch manufacturers has improved substantially in April 2015. The producer confidence indicator increased from 1.4 in March to 3.3 in April. This increase nearly compensated for the drop over the last three months. The improvement in April is due to the fact that Dutch manufacturers are far more positive about their future output.

In the second quarter of 2015, the capacity utilisation rate in manufacturing reached almost 82 percent, the highest level since the start of the 2008 crisis.

The mood among consumers, on the other hand, has declined slightly in April 2015 compared to March. Consumer confidence fell  by 2 points to 0 in April. This means that there are as many optimists as pessimists among Dutch consumers in April. The marginal decrease is caused by the fact that consumers are less optimistic about the economy. Consumers’ willingness-to-buy also deteriorated somewhat.

Consumer and producer confidence (seasonally adjusted)

Exports, investments and household consumption up

The exports continue to grow. The volume of exports of goods was 6.6 percent larger in February 2015 than twelve months previously. The growth was somewhat lower than in January. Exports of transport equipment, natural gas, and oil products grew by most in February. Exports of Dutch products as well as re-exports were higher than in February last year.

The volume of investments in tangible fixed assets was 2.2 percent higher in February 2015 than in February 2014. The increase was mainly caused by higher investments in residential property and lorries. This is the sixth month in a row that investments were higher than one year previously.

Dutch consumer spending on goods and services was 2.4 percent up in February 2015 from the same month last year, i.e. the most substantial increase in four years. Consumers spent more on natural gas, clothes and home furnishing articles.

Manufacturing output a fraction below level last year

The average daily output generated by Dutch manufacturing industry was 0.2 percent lower in February 2015 than in February 2014. The decline was less substantial than in January. Manufacturing output still suffered the effects from a major closedown in the tobacco industry. If this is not taken into account, manufacturing output would be slightly higher than one year previously.

Situation on the labour market improves further

In March, unemployment declined; the number of unemployed was reduced by an average of 6 thousand a month. Most people who found work are young. The unemployment rate fell from 7.1 percent in February to 7.0 percent in March.

The number of job vacancies continued to rise in the fourth quarter of 2014. Also the number of jobs grew, in particular temp jobs and self-employed jobs, but employment in the sector health care and welfare fell further.

The total number of hours worked in temp jobs has grown since the beginning of 2013. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the number of long-term temporary employment contracts (e.g. secondment or payrolling) and the number of short-term contracts increased.

More bankruptcies in March, mainly due to extra court session day. The number of bankruptcies has fallen noticeable after a peak in mid-2013. Compared to the period before the crisis, the number is still relatively high.

Gross Domestic Product (volume, seasonally adjusted)

Economic growth across all sectors

The second estimate of economic growth shows that the Dutch economy has grown by 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 relative to the third quarter. The growth is recorded across all sectors. Household consumption, exports and investments all made a positive contribution to economic growth.

The year 2014 has shown three consecutive quarters of economic growth, but the Dutch economy is still 1.4 percent below the level recorded during the period of economic boom in the first six months of 2008. In quarter-on-quarter growth figures, seasonal and calendar effects have been taken into account.

Dutch economic growth was 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2013. The growth was mainly based on higher exports, higher investments and a higher household consumption level. Government consumption was slightly below the level of last year.

Wednesday 13 Mai Statistics Netherlands will publish the first results for economic growth and the number of jobs in the first quarter of 2015.

More figures can be found in the Business cycle dossier.

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