Businesses face growing shortage of staff

An increasing number of entrepreneurs in the non-financial private sector encounter obstacles due to staff shortages. At the start of Q3 of this year, 25 percent of entrepreneurs were hampered in their business operations as a result, while staff shortages affected 39 percent of businesses in the construction sector. This is reported by 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) on the basis of newly released figures in the Netherlands Business Survey (COEN).

At the start of Q3, 25 percent of enterprises in the non-financial private sector were facing impediments to their business operations as a result of understaffing. The number of enterprises reporting shortages has increased significantly during the past period. At the start of 2016, less than a mere 5 percent of enterprises reported staff shortages as being an impediment. The share has risen continuously since then, to over 25 percent in Q3 of this year.

Entrepreneurs reporting staff shortages (% of companies)
 Non-financial private sector
2012 I3.7
2012 II3.9
2012 III4.2
2012 IV4.1
2013 I2.7
2013 II2.8
2013 III2.5
2013 IV3.1
2014 I2.5
2014 II2.8
2014 III3.3
2014 IV3.7
2015 I2.7
2015 II3.1
2015 III4.3
2015 IV5.3
2016 I4.6
2016 II5.4
2016 III6.7
2016 IV8.3
2017 I8.7
2017 II10.4
2017 III15.6
2017 IV16.5
2018 I18.4
2018 II20
2018 III25.2

Significant understaffing in construction, services and transport

For the first time since 2008, the construction sector has the highest likelihood of lacking staff among all sectors, with 39 percent of entrepreneurs reporting the deficits as a hindering factor in their construction activities, up from 19 percent in Q2. Personnel shortages are also relatively large in the business services and in the sector transport and storage.

Staffing deficits, Q3 2018 (% of companies)
 Staffing deficits
Non-financial private sector25.2
Construction38.9
Business services34.5
Transport and storage31.8
Information and communication29.3
Hotels and restaurants25.9
Manufacturing20.6
Trade15.2
Real estate, renting and business activities14.8
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries14
Mining and quarrying 6.7

Business confidence

The business confidence indicator came to 15.0 at the start of Q3, up by 0.8 points on Q2. Since 2014, the entrepreneurial confidence indicator has been positive without interruption; it has more or less retained the current high level since the start of 2017.

Business confidence in the Netherlands
 Business confidence
2012 I-6.3
2012 II-6.8
2012 III-8.6
2012 IV-9.2
2013 I-10.7
2013 II-11.7
2013 III-8.7
2013 IV-2.7
2014 I1.6
2014 II4.7
2014 III2.9
2014 IV4.9
2015 I5.6
2015 II5.4
2015 III8.7
2015 IV7.4
2016 I9.3
2016 II8.8
2016 III7.9
2016 IV9.2
2017 I14.7
2017 II15.5
2017 III15.9
2017 IV13.4
2018 I18.1
2018 II14.2
2018 III15

Highest confidence in construction and wholesale

In the construction sector, entrepreneurial confidence came to 32.5 at the start of Q3, up by several points on Q2 (27.1). Wholesale entrepreneurs are likewise in a more positive mood than average with business confidence at 20.0, over two points higher than in Q2. Confidence among entrepreneurs in vehicle distribution and repair deteriorated from 6.7 in Q2 to -0.8 at the start of Q3.

Business confidence in the Netherlands, Q3 2018
 Ondernemersvertrouwen
Non-financial private sector15
Construction32.5
Wholesale and commission trade 27.8
Information and communication24.6
Business services20.2
Hotels and restaurants12.3
Retail trade (excl. cars)8.6
Transport and storage7.6
Real estate, renting and business activities6.7
Manufacturing6.3
Vehicle distribution and repair-0.8
Mining and quarrying-20.5

This is a joint publication by:

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