Dutch economy recovers further in fourth quarter 2010

  • 2.4 percent growth in fourth quarter
  • Quarter-on-quarter growth 0.6 percent
  • Strong growth for exports, modest growth for household consumption
  • Investment up again for the first time in two years
  • 25 thousand more jobs
  • Economic growth 1.7 percent in 2010

According to Statistics Netherlands’ first provisional estimate, Dutch economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2010 was 2.4 percent compared with the same period in the previous year. This put economic growth for the whole of 2010 at 1.7 percent. Compared with the third quarter of 2010, economic growth was 0.6 percent. This quarter-on-quarter growth is the same as the average of the last five quarters. The number of jobs of employees was 25 thousand higher than twelve months previously.

Exports continue robust growth

The volume of exports of goods and services was 11.3 percent higher in the fourth quarter of 2010 than in the same quarter of 2009. This increase is in line with the increase in the preceding quarters. Re-exports grew by more than exports of products manufactured in the Netherlands. Imports of goods and services rose by 10.7 percent, just a fraction less than exports.

Modest increase for consumption by households

Households spent 1.5 percent more in the fourth quarter than in the same quarter in the previous year. This increase was mainly accounted for by the substantial rise in purchases of cars and higher use of natural gas with the early onset of winter. Spending on clothes and consumer electronics and in hotels and restaurants rose hardly or not at all. Consumers spent considerably less on home furnishings.

The volume of government consumption was 1.2 percent higher in the fourth quarter than twelve months previously. Real expenditure on care, in particular, but also on education increased.

Investment up slightly for the first time in two years

Fixed capital formation was up 0.5 percent on one year previously. This very small increase followed eight consecutive quarters of - in some cases quite hefty - decrease. The turning point was accounted for by higher investment in goods vehicles. Just as in the preceding quarters, considerably more money was invested in machines and computers. Investment in housing, office buildings and infrastructure was still substantially lower than twelve months previously.

Strong growth for manufacturing, trade and transport; construction continues to shrink

Carried by the increase in exports, manufacturing production was up 6 percent on the same quarter in 2009. Metal production in particular rose strongly. In the wake of the increase in manufacturing output, trade and  transport grew by 6 and 5 percent respectively. In the business services sector, temp agencies experienced a strong increase.

The decline in the construction industry continued, but in spite of the early arrival of winter it was less than in preceding quarters. In the fourth quarter production was 6 percent lower than twelve months previously.

Job increases continue, but modestly

In the fourth quarter of 2010 there were 25 thousand more employee jobs than in the same quarter in 2009. This 0.3 percent rise is the first positive growth following six quarters of decrease. The turnaround into jobs growth was already visible in the quarter-on-quarter figures. After correction for seasonal effects, the number of jobs was 0.3 percent higher than in the third quarter of 2010. This is the third quarter in a row in which the number of employee jobs grew. The growth was mainly in the care and temp agency sectors.

Economic growth 1.7 percent in 2010

The figures for the fourth quarter put economic growth for the whole of 2010 at 1.7 percent . This makes up for part of the historic 3.9 percent decrease in 2009.

Minor adjustments for previous quarters

The economic growth figures for the first three quarters of 2010 have also been reviewed. This resulted in a downward adjustment of 0.1 percent for the year-on-year growth in the first and third quarters. Second-quarter growth remains unchanged at 2.2 percent. As a result of the positive fourth quarter, the quarter-on-quarter figure for the third quarter – among others -  was adjusted, from -0.1 to 0.1 percent.