Unemployment rate reaches 7.5%, consumer confidence hits record low

A string of gloomy figures from the national statistics office CBS on Thursday show the Dutch economy is still in crisis.

The jobless rate in January hit 7.5%, the CBS said, a rise of 0.3 percentage point on December. Over the past three months, an average of 19,000 people have joined the ranks of the unemployed. The northern provinces were particularly hard hit, the CBS said.

The jobless rate among the under-25s continues to grow. The youth unemployment rate has now risen to 15%, up from 13% in December.

Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher described the job market prospects as ‘not rosy in the short term’. There is no simple solution for the rise in unemployment but the government will continue to invest in education and innovation and deal with the European crisis, the minister said.

Confidence

Rising unemployment is having an knock-on effect on consumer confidence which has now fallen to a record low. The consumer confidence index fell nine points to -44, its lowest level since current records began in 1986.

Consumers were particularly worried about their own economic situation, the CBS said.

House prices have also continued to decline, dropping nearly 10% in January compared with the previous year. This is closely connected to the implementation of tougher mortgage rules on January 1, the CBS said. House prices have fallen 19% since reaching a peak in 2008.

Industry

New industrial figures also show no end in sight to the Netherlands’ economic woes. Corporate investments fell 8% in December, compared with December 2011.

Initial indications show the situation is likely to have worsened in February, the CBS said.

However, exports continue to thrive. The value of exports in 2012 reached €431bn, up 5% on the previous year. Most of this was due to higher prices.

However, two-thirds of export value comes from transhipments – goods arriving in the Netherlands and then being shipped on elsewhere. ‘We earn relatively little on this,’ the CBS said.

The government’s macro-economic forecasting agency CPB is due to publish new figures next week, which will determine whether or not the cabinet embarks on a new round of spending cuts, news agency ANP said.


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