West Netherlands least affected by economic decline

In 2003 the western part of the Netherlands (comprising the provinces of North Holland, South Holland, Utrecht and Zeeland) was least affected by the recession. In the provinces of Gelderland, Overijssel and particularly North Brabant and Limburg economic decline was above the national level. In the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe the economic situation was strongly affected by the extraction of natural gas, according to a survey recently conducted by Statistics Netherlands.

In 2003 Dutch economy shrank compared to the previous year. Value added decreased by 0.5 percent in volume. Economic growth in the Randstad provinces levelled off but in North Brabant and Limburg shrank by more than one percent. Overijssel (-1.0 percent) and Gelderland (-0.7 percent) also underachieved.

Recession barely affects West Netherlands

After peak years 1998 and 1999 economic decline was observed in all provinces but, obviously, the provinces situated in the western part of the Netherlands were least affected by the recession.

The local economies of North Holland and South Holland dwindled in 2003 but nevertheless achieved above average. Utrecht and Zeeland showed a modest growth. In recent years Utrecht benefited from the high growth rate in the commercial services sector (e.g. computer services). Currently, the wholesale, banking and insurance sectors prevent the economy in this province from slipping back into recession. In Zeeland the manufacture of chemical products fuels the economy.

In the province of Flevoland, in particular in the town of Almere, the economy continues to grow (0.8 procent). Flevoland scarcely contributes to the nationwide growth rate. The share of value added to the national economy is just under two percent.

South and East Netherlands lagging behind

The growth rate for North Brabant, Limburg, Overijssel and Gelderland is below the national figure. These four provinces together account for over one third of the national value added. The sectors food, metal and electrotechnical products and machinery in particular did not show good results in 2003 compared to the Netherlands as a whole.

Natural gas extraction affects northern provinces

The economic growth rate in Groningen (+1.5 percent) was well above the national average. Drenthe (-2.0 percent) and Friesland (-1.2 percent) made a negative contribution to the national growth rate.

The results for Groningen are strongly affected by the volume of natural gas extracted. A change in the volume has a marked impact on the value added but hardly affects the local economy. If natural gas extraction is not taken into account, the growth rate for Groningen is lower. In Friesland and Drenthe the production of natural gas in 2003 was well below the 2002 level. If the lower production in 2003 is not taken into account, a more positive picture emerges. In that case the figures for Friesland and Drenthe hover around the national average. 

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