Economic outlook slightly more positive

© CBS / Alrik Swagerman
In July 2021, the economic situation according to the CBS Business Cycle Tracer has slightly improved. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that as of mid-July 7 out of the 13 indicators in the Business Cycle Tracer are performing above their long-term trend.

The CBS Business Cycle Tracer is a tool to monitor the state and the cycle of the Dutch economy with 13 key macro-economic indicators. It provides a coherent macro-economic picture based on all the figures published by CBS over the past month or quarter and does not necessarily represent the situation at the level 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))
2014January-0.92
2014February-0.86
2014March-0.83
2014April-0.82
2014May-0.8
2014June-0.8
2014July-0.79
2014August-0.77
2014September-0.76
2014October-0.75
2014November-0.72
2014December-0.68
2015January-0.64
2015February-0.59
2015March-0.54
2015April-0.48
2015May-0.43
2015June-0.38
2015July-0.33
2015August-0.3
2015September-0.27
2015October-0.26
2015November-0.24
2015December-0.22
2016January-0.22
2016February-0.2
2016March-0.19
2016April-0.18
2016May-0.14
2016June-0.11
2016July-0.08
2016August-0.02
2016September0.01
2016October0.05
2016November0.11
2016December0.15
2017January0.19
2017February0.26
2017March0.31
2017April0.35
2017May0.42
2017June0.45
2017July0.49
2017August0.55
2017September0.59
2017October0.63
2017November0.69
2017December0.73
2018January0.77
2018February0.84
2018March0.88
2018April0.89
2018May0.94
2018June0.96
2018July0.97
2018August0.98
2018September0.98
2018October0.95
2018November0.93
2018December0.91
2019January0.85
2019February0.85
2019March0.81
2019April0.78
2019May0.78
2019June0.74
2019July0.76
2019August0.72
2019September0.69
2019October0.68
2019November0.67
2019December0.67
2020January0.68
2020February0.65
2020March0.59
2020April0.57
2020May-0.43
2020June-1.36
2020July-1.73
2020August-1.66
2020September-1.26
2020October-0.84
2020November-0.45
2020December-0.27
2021January-0.36
2021February-0.46
2021March-0.44
2021April-0.63
2021May-0.22
2021Juni0.19
2021Juli0.24

Consumer and producer confidence improving

In June, confidence among Dutch consumers and manufacturers improved again. Both consumer and producer confidence were positioned above their long-term average.

Consumer and producer confidence (seasonally adjusted)
YearMonthConsumer confidence (average of the component questions)Producer confidence (average of the component questions)
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
2021January-190.6
2021February-190.1
2021March-183.4
2021April-146.5
2021May-98.8
2021June-311.5

Higher exports, investments and household consumption

In May 2021, the total volume of goods exports was up by 22.2 percent year-on-year. This is the second highest growth since the start of this statistic in 1995. The increase was mainly seen in exports of petroleum and chemical products, transport equipment, metal products and machinery. Compared to May 2019, exports were 7.9 percent higher.

Consumers spent 9.4 percent more in April 2021 than in the same month last year. This the largest year-on-year growth CBS has recorded after World War II. In March, household consumption was still 0.4 percent down on one year previously. The shift from decline to growth was partly the result of the extremely low household consumption level in April 2020 due to the first lockdown.

In addition, bars and restaurants were allowed to open their terraces on 28 April 2021, and from that day it was also possible to shop without making an appointment in advance. Furthermore, consumption of natural gas was considerably higher than in April 2020 due to much lower temperatures. In April 2021, household consumption was still 9.2 percent lower than in April 2019.

The volume of investments in tangible fixed assets rose by 9.9 percent year-on-year in April 2021. The increase was slightly larger than in the previous month. There were mainly more investments in dwellings and buildings, passenger cars and machinery. Compared to April 2019, investments were 2.2 percent lower.

Manufacturing output 16.5 percent up in May

In May 2021, the average daily output generated by the Dutch manufacturing industry was 16.5 percent up on May 2020. Output was up by 13.1 percent in the previous month. In May, manufacturing output was at its highest level ever. Compared to May 2019, growth stood at 3 percent. This made up for the loss in May 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis.

Fewer bankruptcies in June

The number of corporate bankruptcies, adjusted for court session days, has decreased. There were 10 fewer bankruptcies in June than in the previous month. The number of pronounced bankruptcies remained at a low level.

House price increase higher again

In May 2021, owner-occupied dwellings (excluding new constructions) were on average 12.9 percent more expensive than in the same month last year, representing the largest increase since May 2001. The price rise moderated in 2019 but picked up again in 2020.

Slightly more hours worked

In Q1 2021, the number of hours worked adjusted for seasonal effects was 1.5 percent higher than in Q4 2020. Total hours worked by employees and self-employed people over Q1 2021 amounted to 3.4 billion.

In May 2021, 309 thousand people were unemployed. This is 3.3 percent of the labour force. From March through May, unemployment declined by an average of 10 thousand per month. Between March and August 2020, the unemployment rate rose from 2.9 to 4.6 percent. After that, it declined almost continuously.

The number of vacancies in Q1 2021 stood at almost 245 thousand. This is 26 thousand more than in the previous quarter.

In Q1 2021, turnover at temporary employment agencies rose by 1.1 percent relative to the previous quarter. Year-on-year, this turnover contracted by 2.3 percent.

GDP (volume), seasonally adjusted
YearQuarterIndex (2015=100)
2014Quarter 197.3
2014Quarter 297.9
2014Quarter 398.1
2014Quarter 499
2015Quarter 199.6
2015Quarter 299.9
2015Quarter 3100.2
2015Quarter 4100.3
2016Quarter 1101.2
2016Quarter 2101.4
2016Quarter 3102.6
2016Quarter 4103.4
2017Quarter 1103.9
2017Quarter 2104.9
2017Quarter 3105.6
2017Quarter 4106.5
2018Quarter 1106.9
2018Quarter 2107.5
2018Quarter 3107.9
2018Quarter 4108.4
2019Quarter 1109
2019Quarter 2109.5
2019Quarter 3109.9
2019Quarter 4110.4
2020Quarter 1108.6
2020Quarter 299.5
2020Quarter 3107
2020Quarter 4107
2021Quarter 1106.2

0.8 percent GDP contraction in Q1 2021

According to the second estimate conducted by CBS, gross domestic product (GDP) decreased by 0.8 percent in Q1 2021 relative to the previous quarter. This was mainly related to household consumption. Relative to Q1 2020, GDP contracted by 2.4 percent.