Business outlook remains favourable – recruitment difficulties persist


According to the Business Tendency Survey carried out by the Confederation of Finnish Industries in January, the business outlook has remained favourable. The current situation is described as stronger than average in the manufacturing, construction and service sectors.

The general outlook for Finnish businesses for the next six months has also, for the most part, remained positive. The improving trend is estimated to continue during the first half of 2018. The general business outlook balance indicator was +17 (October +18) in manufacturing. In construction the outlook level improved to +4 (October -2), while in services it was +15 (October +20)

Output will grow across the board throughout the first half of 2018

The growth in companies’ output and sales continued to be fairly brisk. There was sustained growth in the number of new orders received by the manufacturing sector. Growth is forecast to continue across the board in the coming months, and growth expectations for the second quarter are also generally good.

The manufacturing sector’s order books have remained better than average, while in construction they are slightly below average. The capacity utilisation rate is moderately high. In the manufacturing sector, capacity was fully utilised in 80% of the companies that responded (86% in October).

The growth in the number of employees picked up in the manufacturing and services sectors. Over the next three months, the labour force in manufacturing and services is forecast to increase, whereas in construction, it is expected to remain more or less unchanged. Profitability is expected to improve somewhat in all main sectors.

Recruitment difficulties have remained widespread in all main sectors. Since the previous survey, the situation has become even worse in construction. Of all business respondents, 22% experienced recruitment difficulties. Lack of capacity and financing difficulties were considered to be rather minor obstacles to conducting business.

EK Business Tendency Survey

The Business Tendency Survey is published four times a year by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK). The survey has been carried out regularly since 1966. It is part of the European Commission’s Joint Harmonised EU Programme of Business and Consumer Surveys, which is partially funded by the EU. The survey concerns activity in Finland.

In January 2018, the Confederation of Finnish Industries asked companies to evaluate their business outlook for the first half of 2018. 1,281 companies employing approximately 270,000 people replied to the survey.