The first estimate of Statistics Netherlands’ quarterly national accounts puts Dutch economic growth at 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2006. The increase in gross domestic product (GDP) was realised with one working day fewer than in the same period last year. The increase in exports and household consumption was slightly smaller this quarter than in the first six months. Fixed capital formation grew further. Exports are the driving force behind economic growth. Employment also continued to rise. There were 84 thousand more jobs than twelve months previously.
Quarter-on-quarter growth 0.6 percent
After correction for working day and seasonal effects, the volume of GDP was 0.6 percent higher in the third quarter than in the second quarter of 2006. This quarter-on-quarter growth is a fraction lower than in the first half of this year.
Exports growing more slowly
The volume of exports of goods and services was 6.1 percent larger in the third quarter than twelve months previously. This rise was slightly smaller than in the first half of 2006, but slightly larger than in the whole of 2005. The slower growth was caused by the exports of Dutch manufactured products. Re-exports are still growing substantially.
Imports grew by slightly more than exports. The increase in imports was not caused by re-exports alone, but to an important extent also by the increase in domestic expenditure and production.
Consumer spending continues to grow
Households spent 2.0 percent more in the third quarter than in the same quarter last year after corrections for price changes and changes in the system of medical insurance. This increase is larger than in the years 2001 to 2005, but smaller than in the first half of this year. This was mainly because of spending on durable consumer goods. The increase in spending on this category of goods remains high, but is less exuberant than in the first six months. The volume of government consumption remains unchanged.
Fixed capital consumption picks up strongly
Fixed capital consumption was 6.1 percent higher in the third quarter of 2006 than twelve months previously. Companies invested more in machines in particular, the main investment category in business, but more was also spent on company cars and computers. Investment in dwellings and infrastructure was also clearly up.
Higher production by commercial services and construction
Production in most sectors of industry was up in the third quarter. This was especially the case in commercial services and in construction. Within commercial services the highest growth rates were for temp agencies, wholesale and banking. Retail trade growth was pushed up by increased consumer spending. Construction benefited from the rise in fixed capital formation.
Manufacturing production growth was modest. Production in agriculture even fell. In the energy sector production was down as less electricity was generated and less natural gas extracted. Imports of electricity and natural gas were up on last year. The increase in non-commercial services was very small. The care sector grew modestly, while production by public administration fell.
Employment continues to rise
There were 84 thousand more employee jobs in the third quarter of 2006 than twelve months previously. This increase of 1.1 percent equals that in the first half of the year. In terms of full-time equivalents, the growth is slightly lower at 0.9 percent. This is because the number of part-time jobs is growing faster than the number of full-time jobs.
After correction for seasonal effects the number of jobs in the third quarter was 0.3 percent higher than in the second quarter of 2006. This, too, indicates that the increase in employment continues unabated.