Economy - Figures


In 2018, the total number of companies rose by nearly 90 thousand. Over three-quarters of this growth is due to a rising number of sole proprietors, a trend that has been going on for a longer period of time. Over the past decade, the number of companies has increased by 600 thousand, 80 percent of which are sole proprietors.

With 23 thousand company births, the business services sector contributed the most to the growing number of businesses. The largest increase in this sector was in management consultancies: nearly 7 thousand. For many years now, management consultancies have shown vigorous growth amounting to nearly 60 thousand over the past decade. Of all companies established in 2018, 97 percent employ only one person.

The number of businesses in the sectors government, education and care has risen by more than 19 thousand. Major growth sectors are tutoring and coaching (+2,995) as well as fitness centres (+2,285).

The vast majority of industries within the sectors trade, transport and accommodation and food services saw the number of businesses go up. The most substantial increase was recorded among webshops (+2,940), event caterers (+1,365), road hauliers (1,200) and taxi companies (+840). Decline was limited to a small number of industries, mainly in retail (not including supermarkets or department stores, –920), market traders (–325) and cafés (–190).

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The number of businesses increased in 2018, but not in every region of the country. The strongest growth was recorded in the The Hague conurbation at 7.4 percent. Hardly any changes were recorded in Delfzijl and the surrounding area. The number of companies even declined in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, by 1.6 percent.

In 2018, the non-financial private sector achieved gross profits before tax amounting to 255 billion euros. This is the highest amount since 1995 and 24.4 billion euros more than in the previous year.

Gross profit before tax is equal to profit from operations plus capital income such as interest payments and dividends, minus interest paid and several other payments to the government in relation to natural gas extraction and ground lease, for example. More than half of the profit increase over 2018 was contributed by foreign subsidiaries of Dutch enterprises. Their profits were up by 13.2 billion euros compared to 2017. The bulk of this increase was on account of a small number of multinationals.

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Business confidence – which indicates the mood in the Dutch non-financial private sector – stood at 18.1 in Q1 2018. This was the highest level since 2008. Optimism prevailed throughout 2018 with the sentiment indicator well above its long-term average.

However, a steady decline in business confidence set in over the year and by the beginning of 2019, confidence had dropped to 10.6. In Q2 2019, the confidence indicator increased again to 12.0. Despite the fact that business confidence is currently lower than one year ago, it is still at a high level. It is above average in the sectors construction, wholesale and business services. With a balance of –5.3, entrepreneurs in the automotive industry are pessimistic.

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Opening page and header: © Hollandse Hoogte / Martijn Beekman

Society - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Patricia Rehe

Economy - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Marcel Krijgsman

Labour and income - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Sabine Joosten


Explanation of symbols

. Data not available
* Provisional figure
** Revised provisional figure
x Confidential
(between two whole numbers) up to and including
0 (0.0) The number is smaller than half of the selected unit
empty cell Not applicable
2018–2019 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2018/2019 Average for 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., beginning in 2018 and ending in 2019
2016/’17–2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, etc., 2016/’17 to 2018/’19 inclusive

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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