economic situation continues substantial improvement

According to Statistics Netherlands’ Business Cycle Tracer, the economic situation improved considerably in June 2015 from May. The Dutch economy improved continually in the period between summer 2013 and spring 2014, but since then recovery has been slower. In May and June it increased again.

Statistics Netherlands’ Business Cycle Tracer is a tool used to monitor the economic situation and economic developments. It uses fifteen key macro-economic indicators, which – together – provide a coherent picture of the state of the economy during the last month or quarter. Almost all indicators in the Tracer are performing better than their long-term trend.

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

Mood among producers and consumers improves further

The mood among Dutch manufacturers has improved further in June and reached the highest level in more than four years. Dutch manufacturers are far more positive about their future output. They were also somewhat more optimistic about their order books.

The mood among consumers improved considerably and reached the highest level in almost eight years. The increase in consumer confidence is mainly due to the fact that consumers are more positive about the economic climate. Producer and consumer confidence are both far above the level of their long-term average.

Consumer and producer confidence (seasonally adjusted)

Exports, investment and household consumption up

The volume of exports of goods was 4.7 percent up in April 2015 from twelve months previously. The growth is somewhat larger than in the previous two months. Exports of transport equipment, machines and electronic equipment were noticeably higher in April.

Investment was also up again. The volume of investment in tangible fixed assets was 2.8 percent higher in April 2015 than in April 2014. The increase was mainly caused by higher investment in residential property and lorries.

Dutch consumer spending on goods and services was 1.5 percent up in April 2015 from the same month last year. Just as in the preceding months, consumers used more natural gas in April 2015 than in the same month last year. Consumers also spent more on household appliances, home furnishing articles, clothing and shoes, but less on food, drinks and tobacco products than in April 2014.

Household spending on services - accounting for more than half of total domestic consumer spending - grew by 0.9 percent. These services include house rent, public transport, visits to restaurants or hairdressers and insurance premiums.

Manufacturing output up again

The average daily output generated by the Dutch manufacturing industry in April 2015 was 0.9 percent up from April 2014. In March, output was 1.6 percent higher year-on-year. Manufacturing output is still suffering from the effects of a major closedown in the tobacco industry. If this is not taken into account, output growth would have been even higher.

Unemployment slightly down, labour market recovery slowing

The number of unemployed decreased slightly in May. Unemployment fell by an average of 5 thousand a month over the past three months. The unemployment rate in the Netherlands was 6.9 percent. Women account for the entire increase of the working population. In May, 6.6 percent of men and 7.3 percent of women were unemployed. In the first quarter of 2015, there were 5 unemployed for every job vacancy. 

In May, the number of bankruptcies in the private sector was at its lowest level since November 2008.The number of bankruptcies has fallen noticeably after a peak in mid-2013. Compared to the pre-crisis period, the number of bankruptcies in the private sector is still relatively high.

In the first quarter of 2015, the number of jobs remained the same as in the previous quarter. But the number of temp jobs grew significantly compared to a year ago. Altogether in this period, 72 thousand new jobs were created.

At the end of March, there were 125 unfilled job vacancies in the Netherlands, i.e. 6 thousand more than at the end of the last quarter of 2014. The number of job vacancies has been increasing for seven quarters, but is only half of the record numbers during the boom period in 2007 and 2008.

The total number of hours worked in temp jobs has increased since the beginning of 2013. In the first quarter of this year, the number of long-term temporary employment contracts (secondment and payrolling) and short-term employment contracts increased, though less rapidly than in the fourth quarter of 2014. In the first quarter of 2015, more than 225 thousand temp workers were active on the Dutch labour market.

More indications of economic improvement

The second estimate published on 24 June showed that the Dutch economy grew for the fourth quarter in a row in the first quarter of 2015. Quarter-on-quarter growth was 0.6 percent.

There are more and more signs that the economy is improving: investment, consumption and exports all contribute positively, but the Dutch economy is still 0.2 percent below the level recorded during the period of economic boom in the first six months of 2008.

Year-on-year economic growth was 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

Gross Domestic Product (volume, seasonally adjusted)

More figures can be found in the Business cycle dossier.

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