Staffing deficits impact private sector

Dutch enterprises are struggling more and more to find suitable staff. At the beginning of Q3 2017, one in six entrepreneurs identified a shortage of staff as an obstacle to carrying out business activities. The increasing demand for suitable personnel coincides with the gradually improving economy. This is also reflected in the business confidence indicator, which has reached its highest level since the end of 2008. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK), the Economic Institute for Construction and Housing (EIB), the Dutch Organisation for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MKB-Nederland) and the Dutch Employers’ Organisation (VNO-NCW) report this based on newly released figures in the Netherlands Business Survey (COEN).

Shortage of staff, higher demand for goods and services

The number of enterprises with staffing deficits has risen continuously since the start of 2016. At the beginning of Q3 2017, 16 percent of entrepreneurs reported shortages of staff, versus 7 percent one year previously. By contrast, the number of enterprises affected by an insufficient demand for goods and services has seen a steady decline in recent years.

The business services sector suffers most from a shortage of staff: one out of four entrepreneurs in this sector perceive this as an obstacle. The sectors information and communication (especially IT) and construction are facing the same problem, while the sectors retail trade and mineral extraction are less affected with only 5 percent of enterprises understaffed.

The number of unfilled vacancies continued to increase across nearly all sectors in Q2 2017, as previously reported by CBS.

Experienced shortages of staff
 Q3 2017Q3 2016
Business services25.111
Information and communication22.917.1
Hotels and restaurants16.44.6
Transport and storage167.3
Car trade and repairs14.66.1
Manufacturing industry14.26.2
Wholesale and commission trade9.74
Rental and trade real estate7.21.3
Mineral extraction5.30.4
Retail trade (except cars)4.72.3

Employment growth expected to continue

For Q3, 22 percent of the entrepreneurs expect an increase and 7 percent a decrease in workforce. Enterprises in the construction sector have the most positive outlook on employment: on balance, 32 percent expect employment to grow in Q3. Expectations regarding staff numbers have improved substantially across nearly all sectors.

Business confidence at high level

The increasing demand for labour is partly related to sustained growth in private sector activities. The business confidence indicator, which measures economic sentiment in the Dutch private sector, stands at 15.9, the highest level since measurements started at the end of 2008. Confidence is highest among entrepreneurs in the construction and wholesale sectors.

Retail trade in particular saw a substantial improvement in business confidence compared to the previous quarter; enterprises in the mineral extraction sector, on the other hand, were more negative.

Aside from increased demand for labour, expectations regarding turnover and investments are also positive. On balance, 12.4 percent of entrepreneurs expect turnover to grow in Q3. The outlook on investments is positive as well (11.3 percent).

Business confidence
 Q3 2017Q2 2017
Total non-financial enterprises15.915.5
Wholesale and commission trade30.227.4
Hotels and restaurants21.519.8
Business services18.916.6
Information and communication17.123.4
Retail trade (except cars)15.19
Rental and trade real estate1110.4
Transport and storage7.57.4
Manufacturing industry6.68.3
Car trade and repairs6.39.1
Mineral extraction-18.5-2.8

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