Economic situation stable

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According to Statistics Netherlands’ Business Cycle Tracer, the economic situation is more or less the same in March 2016 as in the preceding month. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that most indicators the Business Cycle Tracer published mid-March 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.

Dutch manufacturers remain positive, consumer confidence further down

Confidence among Dutch manufacturers is about the same in February as in January. They were more positive about their future output in the next three month and their order books, but less positive about their stocks of finished products. For the fourth month in a row consumer confidence deteriorated in March. The downturn is mainly due to the fact that consumers were more negative about the economic climate. Their willingness to buy improved marginally. Producer and consumer confidence are both above the level of their long-term average.

Growing investments, household consumption and exports of goods

The total volume of goods exports grew by 5.6 percent in January 2016 compared to the same month last year. The increase was more substantial than in the previous month when Dutch exports grew by 1.5 percent. In January, exports of transport equipment (e.g. cars and vessels) grew most noticeably. Dutch exports of petroleum derivatives, chemical products and electrical equipment also increased.

On an annual basis, the volume of investments in tangible fixed assets grew by 4.2 percent in January 2015. Growth is far less substantial than November and December when growth figures were in the double digits mainly as a result of soaring car sales. This development was discontinued in January 2016. Investments in residential property were again higher in January than one year previously.

Dutch consumer spending on goods and services was 0.3 percent up in January 2016 from January 2015, the smallest increase since November 2014. Natural gas consumption and car sales declined in January relative to the first month of 2015.

Sustained growth manufacturing output

The average daily output generated by Dutch manufacturing industry in January 2016 was 2.8 percent up from the same month last year. This is mainly due to considerable production growth in the electrical appliances and pharmaceutical industries. Adjusted for seasonal variation, Dutch manufacturing output reached the highest level in nearly four years.

More bankruptcies

In February 2016 the number of bankruptcies increased by 82 relative to January. Apart from January, the number of bankruptcies has grown almost continuously over the past six months.

Sustained increase jobs and job vacancies

Q4 2015 saw an increase in the number of jobs and job vacancies. The job market grew by 60 thousand, mainly temp jobs; 11 thousand new job vacancies took the total to 143,000 by the end of December.

The job market has shown consistent growth for seven quarters in a row. The number of jobs rose by more than 200 thousand over this period. Adjusted for seasonal variation, the number of jobs in the Netherlands currently totals 10 million, the highest level ever.

In February the number of unemployed was 7 thousand up from January, but over the past three months, unemployment declined by an average of 5 thousand a month. The decrease occurred simultaneously with an increase in the number of people in work.

The total number of hours worked in temp jobs grew by 3.6 percent in Q4 2015 relative to Q3, the sharpest increase in five years. The increase was recorded in long-term temporary employment contracts in the form of secondment or pay-rolling as well as in short-term contracts.

Modest economic growth

The Dutch economy grew by 0.3 percent in Q4 2015 relative to Q3. This is mainly due to a rise in investments and exports. The growth rate is based on the second estimate. GDP has shown growth for the seventh consecutive quarter.

The Dutch economy grew 1.6 percent compared to Q4 2014. Economic growth is curbed by the reduced extraction of natural gas.

Simultaneously with the publication of data over Q4, the growth figure for 2015 is released. Economic growth over the entire year 2015 was 2.0 percent. The decision to reduce the extraction of natural gas had a negative effect on Dutch economy of 0.4 percentage point.

On Friday 13 May this year, CBS will publish the first estimate on economic growth and employment in Q1 2016.