Economic outlook less negative in mid-November

© Hollandse Hoogte / Robin Utrecht
The economic situation according to the CBS Business Cycle Tracer has become less unfavourable in November. However, the economy is still firmly in the recession stage. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that, as of mid-November, 11 out of the 13 indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer perform below their long-term trend. As of the reporting month of March, measures against the spread of coronavirus have had a major impact on many indicators of the Tracer.

The CBS Business Cycle Tracer is a tool used to monitor the state and the course of the Dutch economy and is based on 13 key macro-economic indicators. Together, these provide a coherent macro-economic picture based on CBS figures which are being published over the past month or quarter. It does not necessarily represent the situation at the level of of individual households, businesses or regions.

Business Cycle Tracer indicator (unweighted average of the indicators in the CBS Business Cycle Tracer)
YearMonthcycle (distance to the long-term trend (=0))
2013January-0.93
2013February-1.04
2013March-1.12
2013April-1.17
2013May-1.24
2013June-1.27
2013July-1.27
2013August-1.27
2013September-1.21
2013October-1.13
2013November-1.06
2013December-0.98
2014January-0.92
2014February-0.87
2014March-0.84
2014April-0.83
2014May-0.81
2014June-0.8
2014July-0.78
2014August-0.77
2014September-0.76
2014October-0.74
2014November-0.71
2014December-0.67
2015January-0.62
2015February-0.57
2015March-0.52
2015April-0.48
2015May-0.42
2015June-0.37
2015July-0.33
2015August-0.29
2015September-0.26
2015October-0.25
2015November-0.23
2015December-0.22
2016January-0.22
2016February-0.21
2016March-0.2
2016April-0.18
2016May-0.14
2016June-0.11
2016July-0.07
2016August-0.02
2016September0.02
2016October0.06
2016November0.12
2016December0.16
2017January0.19
2017February0.26
2017March0.31
2017April0.35
2017May0.42
2017June0.45
2017July0.48
2017August0.55
2017September0.58
2017October0.62
2017November0.69
2017December0.74
2018January0.78
2018February0.85
2018March0.89
2018April0.9
2018May0.94
2018June0.93
2018July0.95
2018August0.95
2018September0.95
2018October0.92
2018November0.93
2018December0.89
2019January0.84
2019February0.83
2019March0.79
2019April0.77
2019May0.75
2019June0.71
2019July0.74
2019August0.71
2019September0.68
2019October0.64
2019November0.63
2019December0.64
2020January0.63
2020February0.64
2020March0.6
2020April0.6
2020May-1.04
2020June-2.06
2020July-1.62
2020August-1.54
2020September-1.2
2020October-0.98
2020November-0.73

Consumers and producers more pessimistic

In October, consumer and producer confidence deteriorated. Both producer and consumer confidence were positioned below their long-term averages.

Consumer and producer confidence (seasonally adjusted)
YearMonthConsumer confidence (average of the component questions)Producer confidence (average of the component questions)
2016January113.2
2016February73.1
2016March23.9
2016April64.7
2016May74.4
2016June115.4
2016July95.1
2016August91.2
2016September123.4
2016October174.3
2016November213.4
2016December214.7
2017January216
2017February227
2017March247.8
2017April268.3
2017May236.1
2017June237.2
2017July256.6
2017August265.4
2017September238.5
2017October238.2
2017November229.1
2017December258.9
2018January2410.3
2018February2310.9
2018March249.5
2018April258.2
2018May239.8
2018June237.7
2018July236.3
2018August215.9
2018September195.7
2018October155.9
2018November137.2
2018December97.5
2019January05.8
2019February-26.3
2019March-46.1
2019April-36.7
2019May-34.7
2019June03.3
2019July 23.9
2019August03.9
2019September-23.3
2019October-13.6
2019November-22.8
2019December-22.9
2020January-32.5
2020February-23.7
2020March-20.2
2020April-22-28.7
2020May-31-25.1
2020June-27-15.1
2020July-26-8.7
2020August-29-5.4
2020September-28-4.8
2020October-30-5.6

Household consumption, investments and exports down

In Q3 2020, consumers spent 4.8 percent less than in Q3 2019. In particular, consumers spent considerably less on accommodation and food services, recreation and culture, and transport and communication. However, they spent more on goods, particularly food, home furnishings and electrical appliances, compared to one year previously.

In Q3 2020, the volume of investments in fixed assets was 4.2 percent down on the same quarter last year. Investments were down in almost all asset types. Investments in dwellings, office buildings, infrastructure and transport equipment such as passenger cars, lorries and semi-trailers declined in particular. However, investments in computers were up year-on-year.

Exports of goods and services in Q3 2020 were 3.9 percent lower than in Q3 2019. Substantial year-on-year declines were mainly recorded in service exports (e.g. spending by international visitors within the Netherlands) as well as exports of petroleum products. On the other hand, exports of electrotechnical machinery and appliances grew most sharply. Domestic exports contracted by 3.1 percent, while re-exports (exports of previously imported products) were slightly up by 0.9 percent.

Manufacturing output almost 7 percent down in September

In September 2020, the average daily output generated by the Dutch manufacturing industry was 6.8 percent down on September 2019. After three months in which the year-on-year decrease became smaller and smaller, there was a larger drop in production again in September.

Fewer bankruptcies in October

The number of corporate bankruptcies, adjusted for court session days, has decreased. There were 12 fewer bankruptcies in October than in the previous month. The number of pronounced bankruptcies remains at a remarkably low level.

House prices almost 9 percent higher in September

In September 2020, prices of owner-occupied dwellings (excluding new constructions) were on average 8.6 percent higher than in the same month last year. This is the highest price increase since February 2019.

Significant rise in number of hours worked

In Q3 2020, the number of hours worked, adjusted for seasonal effects, was 4.7 percent higher than in the second quarter. In Q2, the number of hours worked fell sharply by 5.7 percent. In total, employees and self-employed worked nearly 3.4 billion hours in the third quarter.

At the end of September, the number of unfilled vacancies had risen to 216 thousand, 16 thousand more than the previous quarter. At the end of 2019, there was still a record level of 286 thousand unfilled vacancies. Due to the coronavirus crisis, the number of vacancies fell by 86 thousand in the first half of the year, a decrease of 30 percent.

In Q3 2020, an average of 419 thousand people were unemployed (ILO definition), 70 thousand more than in the previous quarter. The unemployment rate stood at 4.5 percent in the third quarter.

In Q2 2020, turnover at temporary employment agencies fell by 15.2 percent. Relative to one year previously, turnover was down by 16.6 percent.

GDP (volume), seasonally adjusted
YearQuarterIndex (2010=100)
2013Quarter 1100.1
2013Quarter 299.9
2013Quarter 3100.5
2013Quarter 4101.1
2014Quarter 1101.0
2014Quarter 2101.6
2014Quarter 3101.9
2014Quarter 4102.8
2015Quarter 1103.4
2015Quarter 2103.7
2015Quarter 3104.1
2015Quarter 4104.1
2016Quarter 1105.1
2016Quarter 2105.3
2016Quarter 3106.5
2016Quarter 4107.4
2017Quarter 1107.9
2017Quarter 2108.9
2017Quarter 3109.7
2017Quarter 4110.5
2018Quarter 1111.1
2018Quarter 2111.7
2018Quarter 3112.0
2018Quarter 4112.4
2019Quarter 1113.0
2019Quarter 2113.4
2019Quarter 3113.8
2019Quarter 4114.3
2020Quarter 1112.6
2020Quarter 2103.0
2020Quarter 3110.9

GDP up by 7.7 percent in Q3 2020

According to the first estimate conducted by CBS, gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 7.7 percent in Q3 2020 relative to the previous quarter. The increase was mainly due to consumption, investments and the trade balance. Relative to one year previously, GDP contracted by 2.5 percent.

On Thursday 24 December 2020, CBS will publish the second estimate of GDP and employment over Q3 2020.

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