Unemployment drops to 6.8 pct.; consumers upbeat & spending

Unemployment dropped to 6.8 percent of the working population in July, compared to 7.3 percent in the same month last year. Consumer confidence increased by 2 points in August and is up to 6. And consumers spent 2.2 percent more in June this year than in the same month in 2014.

This is according to figures released by Statistics Netherlands on Thursday.

The number of unemployed people dropped to 603 thousand in July. Over the past three months unemployment fell by 22 thousand and the number of employed people increased by 14 thousand. The employed labor force currently stands at 8.3 million people, 65.4 percent of the 12.7 million people between the ages of 15 and 75 years living in the Netherlands.

The number of current unemployment benefits at the UWV rose by 10 thousand to 420 thousand in July, 3.8 percent lower than last year. The number of new benefits recorded in July is 5.5 percent higher than in July 2014. Over the first seven months of 2015 however, there has bee a decrease of 3.3 percent compared to the same period last year.

Consumers' mood improved in August compared to July. Consumer confidence increased by 2 points and amounted to 6, mainly due to consumers being more positive about the economic climate. Consumer confidence in August is well above the -8 average for the last 20 years. Consumers' assessment of the economy is significantly higher in August than it was in July. The sub Economic climate indicator reached 20, compared to 12 in July.

The increased confidence also means that consumers are spending more. Consumers spent 2.2 percent more in June than in the same month last year. Spending on durable goods showed the largest increase with 5.7 percent. As in previous months, consumers particularly spent more on furnishings and household appliances. Spending on  food and beverages increased by 1.8 percent, on other products like gas and fuel increased by 3.9 percent and spending on services, such as rent, public transport, insurance and restaurants, increased by 1 percent.