Economic outlook slightly more negative

© Hollandse Hoogte / Rob Voss
The economic situation according to the CBS Business Cycle Tracer has become slightly more unfavourable in January. The economy is firmly in the recession stage. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that, as of mid-January, 10 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-0.92
2013February-1.03
2013March-1.12
2013April-1.18
2013May-1.25
2013June-1.27
2013July-1.27
2013August-1.27
2013September-1.21
2013October-1.14
2013November-1.06
2013December-0.98
2014January-0.91
2014February-0.86
2014March-0.83
2014April-0.82
2014May-0.8
2014June-0.79
2014July-0.78
2014August-0.77
2014September-0.76
2014October-0.74
2014November-0.72
2014December-0.68
2015January-0.64
2015February-0.58
2015March-0.53
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-0.2
2016March-0.19
2016April-0.17
2016May-0.13
2016June-0.11
2016July-0.08
2016August-0.02
2016September0.02
2016October0.06
2016November0.11
2016December0.16
2017January0.2
2017February0.26
2017March0.31
2017April0.35
2017May0.42
2017June0.45
2017July0.48
2017August0.55
2017September0.59
2017October0.63
2017November0.69
2017December0.74
2018January0.78
2018February0.84
2018March0.88
2018April0.89
2018May0.93
2018June0.94
2018July0.95
2018August0.96
2018September0.96
2018October0.93
2018November0.93
2018December0.91
2019January0.85
2019February0.83
2019March0.79
2019April0.76
2019May0.74
2019June0.71
2019July0.74
2019August0.71
2019September0.67
2019October0.65
2019November0.63
2019December0.63
2020January0.64
2020February0.64
2020March0.62
2020April0.59
2020May-0.51
2020June-1.49
2020July-1.9
2020August-1.81
2020September-1.39
2020October-0.95
2020November-0.63
2020December-0.43
2021January-0.54

Consumers and producers less pessimistic

In December, consumer and producer confidence were less negative than in November. However, both producer and consumer confidence are 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
2020November-26-3.8
2020December-20-0.4

Exports up, household consumption and investments down

In November 2020, the total volume of goods exports was up by 2.0 percent year-on-year. Exports of chemical products, machinery and appliances increased in particular.

The volume of investments in tangible fixed assets was 5.8 percent down in October 2020 relative to the same month one year previously. The contraction is larger than in the previous month and is mainly due to lower investments in buildings, infrastructure, aircraft and machinery.

Consumers spent 6.5 percent less in October 2020 than in the same month one year previously. The decline is again somewhat larger than in September. Just as in the previous months, consumers spent mainly less on services.

Manufacturing output 2.5 percent down in November

In November 2020, the average daily output generated by the Dutch manufacturing industry was 2.5 percent down on November 2019. This is the smallest contraction after March 2020, when output was almost 2 percent lower than one year previously.

Fewer bankruptcies in December

The number of corporate bankruptcies, adjusted for court session days, has decreased. There were 40 fewer bankruptcies in December than in the previous month. In December 2020, the number of bankruptcies (on a monthly basis) reached its lowest level since February 1991.

House prices almost 9 percent higher in November

In November 2020, prices of owner-occupied dwellings (excluding new constructions) were on average 8.9 percent higher than in the same month one year previously. 

Significant rise in number of hours worked

In Q3 2020, the number of hours worked, adjusted for seasonal effects, was 5 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 November 2020, there were 378 thousand unemployed (ILO definition), equivalent to 4.0 percent of the labour force. From September through November, unemployment declined by an average of 16 thousand per month. Between March and August, unemployment rose by over 150 thousand. Subsequently, it fell by nearly 50 thousand up through November.

In Q3 2020, turnover at temporary employment agencies rose by 6.6 percent. Relative to one year previously, turnover was down by 11.1 percent.

GDP (volume), seasonally adjusted
   index (2010=100)
2013Quarter 1100.1
2013Quarter 299.9
2013Quarter 3100.5
2013Quarter 4101.1
2014Quarter 1101
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
2018Quarter 4112.4
2019Quarter 1113
2019Quarter 2113.4
2019Quarter 3113.8
2019Quarter 4114.3
2020Quarter 1112.6
2020Quarter 2103
2020Quarter 3110.9

GDP up by 7.8 percent in Q3 2020

According to the second estimate conducted by CBS, gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 7.8 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 Tuesday 16 February 2021, CBS will publish the first estimate of GDP and employment over Q4 2020 and the year 2020.