Economic outlook more positive again

© CBS / Alrik Swagerman
In August 2021, the economic situation according to the CBS Business Cycle Tracer has improved again. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that as of mid-August 8 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-0.87
2014March-0.84
2014April-0.82
2014May-0.81
2014June-0.8
2014July-0.79
2014August-0.77
2014September-0.76
2014October-0.74
2014November-0.71
2014December-0.67
2015January-0.63
2015February-0.58
2015March-0.53
2015April-0.48
2015May-0.43
2015June-0.38
2015July-0.34
2015August-0.3
2015September-0.27
2015October-0.26
2015November-0.24
2015December-0.23
2016January-0.23
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
2017March0.32
2017April0.33
2017May0.44
2017June0.46
2017July0.49
2017August0.56
2017September0.6
2017October0.63
2017November0.69
2017December0.74
2018January0.79
2018February0.85
2018March0.9
2018April0.89
2018May0.97
2018June0.96
2018July0.98
2018August0.98
2018September0.98
2018October0.95
2018November0.93
2018December0.9
2019January0.84
2019February0.84
2019March0.78
2019April0.75
2019May0.77
2019June0.72
2019July0.74
2019August0.7
2019September0.66
2019October0.63
2019November0.78
2019December0.63
2020January0.63
2020February0.6
2020March0.54
2020April0.52
2020May-0.96
2020June-1.92
2020July-1.48
2020August-1.43
2020September-1.05
2020October-0.88
2020November-0.57
2020December-0.49
2021January-0.41
2021February-0.83
2021March-0.55
2021April-0.56
2021May-0.1
2021Juni0.14
2021Juli0.53
2021August0.99

Consumer confidence virtually unchanged, producer confidence improving

In July, confidence among Dutch consumers hardly changed, but producer confidence 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
2021Juky-412.3

Higher exports, investments and household consumption

In Q2 2021, consumers spent 9.3 percent more than in Q2 2020. This is mainly due to the (gradual) opening of shops and accommodation and food services. Consumers spent mainly more on accommodation and food services, medical services, clothing and passenger cars. However, household consumption has not yet returned to pre-coronavirus levels. Compared to the second quarter of 2019, household consumption was almost 5 percent lower.

In Q2 2021, the volume of investments in fixed assets was 9.5 percent up on the same quarter last year. Investments were mainly up in dwellings, buildings, passenger cars, other road transport, machinery and installations. Investments are also not yet back at pre-coronavirus levels and were around 1 percent lower compared to the second quarter of 2019.

Exports of goods and services in Q2 2021 were 14 percent up year-on-year. In particular, more machinery, chemical products and transport equipment were exported. Exports of Dutch manufactured goods were 16 percent higher, while re-exports (the export of previously imported products) grew by 21.1 percent.

Manufacturing output 17.9 percent up in June

In June 2021, the average daily output generated by the Dutch manufacturing industry was up by 17.9 percent on June 2020, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Output was up by 16.4 percent in the previous month. In June, manufacturing output was at its highest level ever. Compared to June 2019, growth stood at 7 percent. This made up amply for the loss in June 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fewer bankruptcies in July

The number of corporate bankruptcies, adjusted for court session days, has decreased. There were 12 fewer bankruptcies in July than in the previous month. The number of bankruptcies pronounced in the first seven months of 2021 was more than half lower than in the first seven months of 2020.

House price increase higher again

In June 2021, owner-occupied dwellings (excluding new constructions) were on average 14.6 percent more expensive than in the same month last year, representing the largest increase since January 2001. The price rise moderated in 2019 but picked up again in 2020.

More hours worked, more vacancies, fewer unemployed

In Q2 2021, the number of hours worked adjusted for seasonal effects was 1.0 percent higher than in Q1 2021. Total hours worked by employees and self-employed people over Q1 2021 amounted to more than 3.4 billion.

Compared to the first quarter of 2021, the number of unemployed fell by 27 thousand. This means that unemployment declined for the third quarter in a row. In Q2 2021, 307 thousand people were unemployed, i.e. 3.3 percent of the labour force.

The number of vacancies in Q2 2021 stood at 327 thousand. This is 82 thousand more than in the previous quarter. There has never been such a large quarter-on-quarter increase since the start of the measurement in 1997.

For the first time since the measurement started in 2003, the tension on the labour market has risen to such an extent that there are more vacancies than unemployed people. In Q2 2021, there were 106 vacancies for every 100 unemployed. The increase in tension is mainly attributable to a record growth in the number of vacancies.

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 2ent.

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
2021Quarter 2109.5

3.1 percent GDP growth in Q2 2021

According to the first estimate conducted by CBS, gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 3.1 percent in Q2 2021 relative to the previous quarter. This economic growth was mainly due to increased household consumption and a higher trade balance. Relative to Q2 2020, GDP was up by 9.7 percent.