One-quarter of businesses facing staff shortages

© Hollandse Hoogte / Robin Utrecht
One-quarter of Dutch non-financial enterprises are hampered by a lack of manpower. At the start of Q3 2019, staffing deficits were mainly affecting entrepreneurs in business services. Business confidence - the sentiment indicator of the Dutch private sector - has declined slightly to 10.6. Despite this drop, the overall mood among entrepreneurs remains positive. 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 the Netherlands Business Survey (COEN).

Since mid-2018, approximately one-quarter of the non-financial private sector have cited staff shortages in the Business survey. The number of businesses encountering impediments as a result has not declined as of Q3 2019. Nevertheless, on balance 12 percent of entrepreneurs anticipate an increase in their workforce over Q3. This share is lower than in the same quarter last year, when on balance 18 percent of entrepreneurs expected such as increase.

Non-financial enterprises facing staff shortages (%)
YearQuarterEnterprises facing staff shortages
2016Q14.6
Q25.4
Q36.7
Q4 8.3
2017Q18.7
Q210.4
Q315.6
Q4 16.5
2018Q118.4
Q220
Q325.2
Q4 25.9
2019Q124.1
Q224
Q324.9
Source: CBS, KVK, EIB, MKB-Nederland and VNO-NCW

Most severe shortage found in business services

In the business services industry, staff shortages are affecting 35 percent of entrepreneurs. The share of entrepreneurs with staffing deficits lies at 32 percent in the transport and storage industry. Staff shortages are also above average in the industries information and communication, accommodation and food services and construction. In mining and quarrying, however, only 5 percent report labour shortages.

Non-financial enterprises facing staff shortages (%)
BedrijfstakQ3 2019Q2 2019
Non-financial private sector24.924
Business services35.433.9
Transport and storage32.228.9
Information and communication31.131.2
Accommodation and food services29.129.4
Construction27.326.5
Manufacturing21.419.3
Car trade and repairs21.422.3
Wholesale and commission trade18.418
Real estate, renting and business activities17.817.6
Retail trade (excl. cars)12.212.7
Mining and quarrying5.58.5
Source: CBS, KVK, EIB, MKB-Nederland and VNO-NCW

Entrepreneurs still positive

Business confidence stood at 10.6 at the start of Q3, representing a decline by 1.4 points on Q2. Despite this decline, the mood among entrepreneurs remains positive with the sentiment indicator far above the average since monitoring started in 2008 (2.0). Optimism has prevailed in the private sector since October 2014.

Information and communication most optimistic

Business confidence is highest in the information and communication industry, where It rose sharply from 17.9 in Q2 to 25.0 in Q3. In the previous eleven quarters, the most positive mood was consistently found among entrepreneurs in construction. This confidence declined to 20.6 in Q3 2019, however. Entrepreneurs in car maintenance and repair services reported a negative mood for the third quarter in a row. Their confidence in Q3 came out at -12.7, which means it deteriorated against the previous quarter (-5.3).

Business confidence, by industry
BedrijfstakQ3 2019Q2 2019
Non-financial private sector10.612
Information and communication2517.9
Construction20.627.8
Business services15.313
Wholesale and commission trade12.913.4
Transport and storage10.38.4
Mining and quarrying8.9-1
Retail trade (excl. cars)7.610.9
Accommodation and food services7.48.6
Manufacturing3.96.7
Real estate, renting and business activities1.57.2
Car trade and repairs-12.7-5.3
Source: CBS, KVK, EIB, MKB-Nederland and VNO-NCW

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