Economic outlook improving

© CBS / Alrik Swagerman
In October, the economic situation according to the CBS Business Cycle Tracer has improved again. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that as of mid-October 9 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-0.91
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-0.71
2014December-0.68
2015January-0.64
2015February-0.59
2015March-0.53
2015April-0.48
2015May-0.43
2015June-0.37
2015July-0.33
2015August-0.3
2015September-0.26
2015October-0.26
2015November-0.23
2015December-0.22
2016January-0.22
2016February-0.2
2016March-0.19
2016April-0.17
2016May-0.13
2016June-0.1
2016July-0.07
2016August-0.02
2016September0.02
2016October0.06
2016November0.12
2016December0.16
2017January0.2
2017February0.26
2017March0.31
2017April0.37
2017May0.41
2017June0.47
2017July0.49
2017August0.55
2017September0.59
2017October0.63
2017November0.69
2017December0.73
2018January0.77
2018February0.84
2018March0.88
2018April0.9
2018May0.92
2018June0.95
2018July0.96
2018August0.97
2018September0.97
2018October0.94
2018November0.91
2018December0.89
2019January0.83
2019February0.83
2019March0.77
2019April0.74
2019May0.7
2019June0.7
2019July0.71
2019August0.66
2019September0.62
2019October0.59
2019November0.74
2019December0.59
2020January0.58
2020February0.56
2020March0.48
2020April0.49
2020May-0.57
2020June-1.43
2020July-1.8
2020August-1.76
2020September-1.37
2020October-0.97
2020November-0.58
2020December-0.42
2021January-0.5
2021February-0.61
2021March-0.56
2021April-0.72
2021May-0.36
2021Juni0.03
2021Juli0.17
2021August0.76
2021September0.87
2021October1.02

Producer confidence improved, consumer confidence slightly less negative

In September, producer confidence improved and consumer confidence was slightly less negative compared to August. 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
2021July-412.3
2021August-69.6
2021September-511.1

Higher exports, investments and household consumption

In August 2021, the total volume of goods exports was up by 5.0 percent year-on-year. The increase was mainly seen in exports of machinery, chemical and metal products. Compared to August 2019, exports were 1.7 percent higher.

Consumers spent 4.8 percent more in July 2021 than in the same month last year. The growth rate was lower than in May and June, when household consumption was up by 11.0 and 6.7 percent year-on-year, respectively. This can largely be attributed to the very low household consumption level in May and June 2020 as a result of the first lockdown. For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, however, household consumption rose above pre-crisis levels. In July 2021, it was 2.1 percent higher than in July 2019.

The volume of investments in tangible fixed assets rose by 4.2 percent year-on-year in July 2021. There were mainly more investments in dwellings and buildings, but fewer investments in passenger cars and infrastructure. Compared to July 2019, investments were approximately 1 percent higher.

Manufacturing output almost 10 percent up in August

In August 2021, the average daily output generated by the Dutch manufacturing industry was up by 9.8 percent from August 2020. Output was up by 13.7 percent in the previous month. Compared to August 2019, growth was approximately 6 percent.

More bankruptcies in September

The number of corporate bankruptcies, adjusted for court session days, has increased. There were 18 more bankruptcies in September than in the previous month. Nevertheless, the number of pronounced bankruptcies remained at a low level.

House prices continue to rise

In August, owner-occupied dwellings (excluding new constructions) were on average 17.8 percent more expensive than in the same month last year. It is the largest increase since October 2000. The price rise moderated slightly in 2019 but picked up again after that.

More hours worked, more vacancies, fewer unemployed

In Q2 2021, the number of hours worked adjusted for seasonal effects was 1.1 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.

In August, 301 thousand people were unemployed. Three months earlier, in May, there were 309 thousand unemployed. The number of unemployed has therefore decreased over the past three months by an average of 3 thousand per month. The unemployment rate stood at 3.2 percent in August.

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 Q2 2021, turnover at temporary employment agencies rose by 3.0 percent relative to the previous quarter. Year-on-year, this turnover increased by 20.1 percent.

GDP (volume), seasonally adjusted
YearQuarterIndex (2015=100)
2014Quarter 197.3
2014Quarter 297.9
2014Quarter 398.1
2014Quarter 499.0
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 1109.0
2019Quarter 2109.5
2019Quarter 3109.9
2019Quarter 4110.4
2020Quarter 1108.6
2020Quarter 299.5
2020Quarter 3107.0
2020Quarter 4107.0
2021Quarter 1106.2
2021Quarter 2110.2

3.8 percent GDP growth in Q2 2021

According to the second estimate conducted by CBS, gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 3.8 percent in Q2 2021 relative to the previous quarter. This economic growth was mainly due to increased household consumption and a higher trade balance. Public consumption also contributed positively. Relative to Q2 2020, GDP was up by 10.4 percent.