Dutch economy declined by 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009

  • By far the largest negative growth after the Second World War
  • Exports and investments down by over 10percent
  • Now households spending less as well
  • Still slightly more jobs than a year ago

According to the first, preliminary estimate of Statistics Netherlands the Dutch economy saw a negative growth of 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter of 2008. This is the largest decline in the Dutch economy in the post-war period. Exports and investments fell sharply. For the first time in years household consumption was down as well. Government spending did increase. There were almost 30 thousand more jobs than a year ago, but fewer than in the fourth quarter.

2.8 percent negative quarter-on-quarter growth

Compared to the preceding quarter the Dutch economy shrank by 2.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009. This takes the calendar and seasonal effects into account. Statistics Netherlands has never before measured such a huge quarter-on-quarter decline. The decrease in the first quarter is much larger than in the last quarters of 2008 when the Dutch economy got into a recession.

Exports plummeting

In the first quarter of 2009 the volume of the exports of goods and services was 11.8 percent lower than in the same quarter of 2008. Both the exports of Dutch products and re-exports fell by more than 10 percent, while the exports of services fell by less. The imports of goods and services were almost 11 percent lower than a year earlier. Imports of durable consumer goods and of investment goods nosedived.

Household consumption decreasing

Households spent 2.4 percent less in the first quarter than a year earlier. It is for the first time in four years that consumer spending fell. People spent much less on durable consumer goods. The greatest decrease was in purchasing new cars. But people also spent less on home furnishings, consumer electronics and clothes. In services the spending on hotels and restaurants and flights fell particularly much. Also spending on food, beverages and tobacco slowed down.

The volume of government consumption was 2.8 percent higher than the year before in the first quarter. That makes government spending the only spending category showing growth. The real expenditure on care, and also on public administration increased.

Investments way down

In the first quarter some 10.1 percent less was invested than the previous year. Investments in machinery and company cars fell most. Also far fewer computers were bought. The sharp decrease in of the number of transactions on the existing housing market plays a key role in the dip in investments in homes. A bit more was invested in commercial buildings and infrastructure.

Considerably lower production in industry, trade, hotels and restaurants, and transport

The recession in the economy is becoming visible in more sectors now. Production in the manufacturing industry was 14 percent below the level in the first quarter of 2008. Also trade, hotels and restaurants and transport had to face major decreases in production. Even financial and business services saw a negative growth of their production for the first time in six years, including temp agencies. Production in agriculture dipped even more. Mining and extraction fell because the export of natural gas fell despite increased domestic spending due to a fairly cold winter.

The production in construction was kept fairly stable mainly due to previously agreed contracts. A more substantial growth of production occurred only in the collective sector, both in care and in government.

Slight increase in jobs

In the first quarter of 2009 there were 27 thousand more jobs of employees than in the same quarter of 2008. This 0.3 percent growth rate was far less than the job growth rate in recent years. After seasonal adjustments the number of jobs in the first quarter was 0.4 percent lower than in the fourth quarter of 2008. This is the first negative quarter-on-quarter growth in four years time.