economic situation gradually improving

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Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports today that - just as in the preceding months - the economic situation in the Netherlands continues to improve. Most indicators in February’s Business Cycle Tracer performed above the level of their long-term average.

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 Dutch economy as published by CBS during the last month or quarter.

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

Confidence among manufacturers improved slightly, consumers less positive

Confidence among Dutch manufacturers improved slightly in January. They were considerably more positive about their stocks of finished products and their order books. Dutch consumers were less positive, in particular about the economic situation, but producer and consumer confidence are both far above the level of their long-term average.

Consumer and producer confidence (seasonally adjusted)

Investments, household consumption and exports of goods up

Investments have grown substantially in the fourth quarter of 2015. Corporate investments in passenger cars (leasing contracts) grew distinctly. Investing in residential property also increased considerably, although less rapidly than in previous quarters. Corporate investments in machinery and installations, telecommunication and software also grew.

In the fourth quarter of 2015 consumer spending was marginally up from the same quarter in 2014. Dutch consumers spent more on home furnishing and electrical appliances. They also spent more on services (hotels, restaurants, recreation and culture). Spending on services accounts for more than half of total domestic consumer spending.

Exports of Dutch products grew faster in the fourth quarter than re-exports (exports of previously imported products), but natural gas exports fell significantly as a result of the decision to reduce the production of natural gas. Apart from goods, the Netherlands also exported more services.

Manufacturing output up

Average daily output generated by Dutch manufacturing industry was up by more than 2 percent in December 2015 compared to the same month in 2014. This is mainly due to considerable production growth in the pharmaceutical, metal and chemical industries. Adjusted for seasonal variation, manufacturing output has reached the highest level in nearly four years.

Fewer bankruptcies

After four months of increase, the number of bankruptcies fell by 27 in January 2016 relative to December 2015. Most bankruptcies were filed in the trade sector.

Sustained growth jobs and job vacancies

The fourth quarter of 2015 saw an increase in the number of jobs and job vacancies.  The job market grew by 48 thousand compared to the previous quarter, mainly temp jobs; 11 thousand new vacancies took the total to 143,000 by the end of September.

The job market has seen consistent growth for seven quarters in a row. Over this period, the number of jobs rose by almost 200 thousand. The number of jobs currently totals 9,998 thousand, the highest level ever.

In December, unemployment fell to 588 thousand, i.e. 6.6 percent in the labour force, versus 6.7 percent in November. In the fourth quarter of 2015 unemployment declined by an average of 7 thousand a month.

The total number of hours worked in temp jobs has grown since the beginning of 2013. In the third quarter, it rose by 2.5 percent. The increase was recorded in long-term temporary contracts in the form of secondment or pay-rolling as well as in short-term temporary contracts.


Modest economic growth

The Dutch economy grew by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 relative to the third quarter. This is mainly due to investments and exports. The growth rate is based on a first estimate. GDP has shown growth for the seventh consecutive quarter.
Dutch economic growth was 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter relative to the same period in 2014. Economic growth is curbed by the reduced extraction of natural gas.

Simultaneously with the publication of data over the fourth quarter, the first growth figure for 2015 is released. Economic growth over the entire year 2015 was 1.9 percent. The decision to reduce the extraction of natural gas had a negative effect on Dutch economy of 0.4 percentage point.

The second estimate on economic growth and employment developments over the fourth quarter of 2015 will be published by CBS on Friday 25 March 2016.