Economic situation more or less stable

According to Statistics Netherlands’ Business Cycle Tracer, the economic situation is somewhat less favourable in March 2016 than in the preceding month. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that most indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer published mid-April 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)

Manufacturers more positive, consumer confidence further down

Confidence among Dutch manufacturers improved in March. Manufacturers were more positive about their output over the next three months, but they were less positive about their order books. Their opinions about their stocks of finished products hardly changed.

Consumer confidence deteriorated for the fourth month in a row 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.

Consumer and producer confidence (seasonally adjusted)

Growing investments, household consumption and exports of goods

The total volume of goods exports grew by 3.0 percent in February 2016 compared to February 2015. Growth was less substantial than in January. Manufacturers exported more petroleum derivatives and (basic) metal products. They also exported more transport vehicles (like cars and lorries), but the volume of natural gas exports declined.

On an annual basis, the volume of investments in tangible fixed assets grew by 4.2 percent in January 2016. Growth is far less substantial than in November and December 2015 when the growth rate was 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 October 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 February 2016 was 2.8 percent higher than in the same month last year. This is mainly due to considerable production growth in the transport equipment and electrical appliances industries. Adjusted for seasonal variation, Dutch manufacturing output reached the highest level in four years.

Bankruptcies falls sharply

In March 2016 the number of bankruptcies declined by 93 relative to February. In the six months prior to March, bankruptcies had increased almost continuously.

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.

Gross Domestic Product (volume, seasonally adjusted)

Modest economic growth

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

The Dutch economy grew 1.6 percent in Q4 2015 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 points.

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