The CBS Business Cycle Tracer is a tool used to monitor the situation and development of the Dutch business cycle. It uses thirteen key macro-economic indicators. Together, these provide a coherent macro-economic picture which is based on CBS figures published over the past month or quarter. This is a macroeconomic outlook which does not apply equally to all households, businesses or regions.
|Year||Month||cycle (distance to the long-term trend (=0))|
Historic drop in consumer and producer confidence
Both consumer and producer confidence showed the sharpest decline ever recorded over one month in April 2020. Both are below their long-term averages.
|Year||Month||Consumer confidence (average of the component questions)||Producer confidence (average of the component questions)|
More investments, exports stable, lower household consumption
In Q1 2020, the volume of investments in fixed assets was 0.9 percent up on the same quarter last year. Investments in infrastructure, office buildings and machinery grew in particular. However, investments in transport equipment such as passenger cars, lorries and semi-trailers declined.
Exports of goods and services were at the same level as in Q1 2019. In the previous quarter, exports still grew by 3.2 percent. Exports of chemical products, electrotechnical machinery and appliances were up in the first quarter of this year, while exports of transport equipment and natural gas declined year-on-year.
In Q1 2020, Dutch consumers spent 1.3 percent less than one year previously. It was the first decline in six years’ time. In March, household consumption fell by as much as 6.7 percent (adjusted for shopping days), after two consecutive months of growth. In Q1, consumers mainly spent less on services (accommodation and food services, recreation and culture in particular) and clothing. They did spend more on food, however. In mid-March, cafés and restaurants were required to close their doors; shopping streets were almost empty. On the other hand, supermarkets recorded a higher turnover.
Manufacturing output 2.5 percent down in March
In March 2020, the average daily output generated by the Dutch manufacturing industry was 2.5 percent down on the same month last year. Output showed a year-on-year decrease of 1.3 percent in the preceding month.
Figures over the reporting month of March only partly reflect the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Producer confidence in March was still recorded as positive, for example.
More bankruptcies in April
The number of corporate bankruptcies, adjusted for court session days, has increased. There were 75 more bankruptcies in April than in the previous month. The trend has been slightly upward since September 2018.
The figures for the reporting month of April do not yet or barely reflect the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. Several weeks may pass between the date of filing for bankruptcy and the court decision. As of week 14, Dutch courts are granting a longer application period of at least four weeks in cases of a bankruptcy petition being made (i.e. by claimants), unless the procedures are deemed urgent. In addition, the Dutch government has established an emergency package for the economy and the job market in order to provide the proper support to Dutch businesses.
Number of jobs continues to grow
In Q1 2020, the number of full-time and part-time jobs held by employees and self-employed rose by 23 thousand to 10,773 thousand jobs. This is an increase of 0.2 percent relative to the previous quarter and the lowest increase since Q1 2016. Compared to Q1 2019, the number of jobs grew by 135 thousand, an increase of 1.3 percent. Figures include the jobs of those people who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 crisis but who still get paid.
At the end of March, the number of unfilled job vacancies stood at 226 thousand, down by over 60 thousand compared to the previous quarter. This is the first quarter-on-quarter decline in seven years and also the largest in absolute numbers ever measured.
Tension in the labour market has fallen slightly. In Q1 2020, there were on average 82 job vacancies per 100 unemployed. In Q4 2019, there were still 91 unfilled vacancies per 100 unemployed.
Unemployment (according to the ILO definition) fell by 39 thousand to 277 thousand in Q1. This means that 3.0 percent of the labour force were unemployed.
GDP contraction of 1.7 percent in Q1 2020
According to the first estimate of GDP conducted by CBS, gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 1.7 percent in Q1 2020 relative to the previous quarter. The decline was mainly due to lower consumption by households. GDP declined by 0.5 percent relative to Q1 2019.
On Wednesday 24 June 2020, CBS will publish the second estimate of GDP and employment over Q1 2020.