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EU figures show economic sentiment highest in the Netherlands03 September 2013, by Alexandra Gowling
The European Commission relased statistics showing that in August, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) rose for the fourth successive month in both the EU and the eurozone, marking a two-year high.
It rose the most in the Netherlands, which recorded a large 5,2 increase, far greater than the strong general increase of 2,7 points in the eurozone and 3,1 in the EU. It is still, however, below average for the EU.
Increases occurred in all of the other four largest EU economies, ranging from 3,3 in Germany to 0,8 in Spain.
The increase resulted from pronounced improvements in confidence among consumers and managers in industry, services and retail trade, with construction being the only exception.
Managers in industry, services and the retail sector had much more positive expectations of production and demand for their products and services.
Consumer confidence also continued its upward trend, which started in December 2012, and its further improvement was mainly due to more optimistic views on the future economic situation in general.
People’s opinions on the future financial situation of their households and savings over the next 12 months were also more positive, although their opinion on unemployment remained unchanged.
Figures released by Dutch industry association NEVI show that industry in the Netherlands is at its highest rate in 18 months, with exports reaching their highest level in 28 months.
Industry has benefitted from increased foreign demand, but there has also been a strong growth in domestic demand.
This growth has not, however, translated into more jobs. While businesses are excited by the growth, they are not yet ready to build up their workforces.
This trend can be seen across the EU, as the number of people without jobs in the 28 EU nations has risen marginally since July last year.
It is especially concerning for the Netherlands, which recorded one of the highestover the year and is now 8,6 per cent.
Currently, the lowest unemployment rates are in Austria (4,8 per cent) and Germany (5,3 per cent), while the highest are in Greece (27,6 per cent) and Spain (26,3 per cent).
People still struggling
According to statistic released by CBS, there are now 6.000 more people on social security than there were in the beginning of 2013, with a total of 400.000 people across the Netherlands.
The number of benefit recipients rose by over 21.000 in the first six months of 2013, which is more than over the whole of 2012.
Also, there are more young people on benefits than before, with the number of people under 27 receiving help rising to 39.000 after falling last year.