Sharp growth Dutch economy in first quarter 2011

  • 3.2 percent economic growth in first quarter
  • Quarter-on-quarter growth 0.9 percent
  • Higher investments construction sector partly due to favourable weather conditions
  • Sustained growth exports Dutch product
  • Very modest growth household consumption
  • Labour market responds hesitantly                      

According to the flash estimate conducted by Statistics Netherlands, the Dutch economy grew by 3.2 percent in the first quarter of this year relative to the same quarter in 2010. This growth figure is the highest recorded in the last three years. The first quarter of 2011 had one extra working day compared to last year.

The Dutch economy improved by 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, a better result than the average growth figure over the six preceding quarters. The number of employee jobs was 41 thousand up on one year previously, but marginally below the level of the preceding quarter.

Higher investments in the construction sector due to favourable weather conditions

In the first quarter, investments were 11.9 percent higher than in the same period one year ago, predominantly due to a surge in investment in residential and non-residential building projects and infrastructural projects. Investments in the construction sector have been in serious decline over the past two years. The recovery is almost entirely due to a higher construction output on account of the mild weather conditions in winter, which prevailed in the first quarter. Investments in machinery, lorries and computers were also higher.

Sustained growth exports Dutch product

In the first quarter of 2011, the volume of exports of goods and services was 5.7 percent up on the same quarter last year. This is a reduction by almost half from the preceding quarters. The slowdown occurred largely in re-exports. For the first time in a long period, the growth rate of re-exports was below the level of exports of Dutch product. Exports of Dutch product grew by 7 percent. Imports of goods and services increased 5.4 percent versus 5.7 percent for exports of goods and services.

Marginal growth household consumption

Household consumption was 0.2 percent up in the first quarter on last year’s first quarter. Car sales improved considerably and people spent more in hotels and restaurants. Household consumption of natural gas was much lower due to the mild weather conditions in winter. Household spending on clothes, home furnishing articles and consumer electronics was marginally down on twelve months ago.
The volume of government consumption in the first quarter was 1.1 percent higher than in the same period last year. Real expenditure on care and and higher education costs mainly accounted for the growth of government consumption. Public spending on defence and public administration declined.

Remarkable growth in construction sector, sustained high growth level manufacturing industry

Output generated by the construction sector soared by no less than 13 percent in the first quarter on the first quarter of 2010 due to favourable weather conditions. The sustained growth of exports of Dutch product and the recovery of the construction sector effected an 8 percent growth of manufacturing output relative to one year previously. The manufacture of metal products increased dramatically.
In the wake of the growing manufacturing output, the sectors trade and transport grew by 7 and 6 percent respectively. The relatively high temperatures moderated natural gas consumption and reduced production activities in the energy sector. In the sector business services, temp agencies achieved good results.

Hesitant response labour market

In the first quarter of this year, the number of jobs of employees grew by 41 thousand (0.5 percent) on the first quarter of 2010, but relative to the fourth quarter of 2010 employment did not improve. After correction for seasonal variation, the number of jobs in the first quarter was 0.2 percent below the level of the fourth quarter of last year. The marginal downturn follows three quarters of employment growth.