Last week, a number of economic-related indicators were published by the European Commission. Firstly, in September 2014, the Economic Sentiment Indicator for both the eurozone and the EU saw a slight decrease. In the eurozone, it got even a little under its long-term average of 100. The decrease is mainly due to increased cautiousness of consumers and retailers. For the eurozone, the only recorded increase was in construction, but was very low. All the main eurozone´s economies´ indicators remained broadly unchanged. The decrease for the whole EU was a little higher than in the eurozone only. Sweden recorded the highest decrease of 2.6. Otherwise, the characteristics of both the eurozone´s and the EU´s decreases are very similar.
Also the Business Climate Indicator decreased somewhat in September, reaching 0.07. This aggregate indicator´s numbers for September show a rather negative managers´ view of past production, exports and stocks. On the other hand, the production expectations were more positive, than in the previous survey.
The Commission disclosed also a report on SME´s overall performance in 2013. It shows that despite slow but steady economic recovery, the SMEs struggled somewhat. It is true, that the overall number and value of EU´s SMEs increased compared to the crisis level (2008), but the employment was still 2.16 million below the 2008 numbers. More importantly, the year-to-year comparison of the overall values shows a slowdown in SMEs activities. The growth in the sector was only 1.1% in 2013, compared to 4.2% in 2011 and 1.5% in 2012. The performance of SMEs in different Member States varies clearly. In Germany, Austria, Sweden, France, the UK and others the SMEs tend to grow. In Germany, the reported employment by SMEs increased by 10% since 2008. On the other hand, SMEs in Greece, Spain, Latvia, Portugal, Hungary or Slovenia struggle and their value added dropped 10% below the 2008 levels last year.
In the two following years, the SMEs indicators are expected to grow sluggishly. The employment should increase by fractions of a per cent only, which should amount for hundreds of thousands jobs, but still not enough to reach the pre-crisis numbers.
2nd May 2018