Sustained economic contraction

  • Economy shrank by 0.2 percent in fourth quarter relative to third quarter
  • Compared to one year previously:
    •         economic downturn 0.9 percent;
    •         exports 3.2 percent up;
    •         investments 5.2 percent down;
    •         household consumption 2.3 percent down;
    •         number of jobs declines by 93 thousand.

According to the first estimate conducted by Statistics Netherlands, the Dutch economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter and by 1.0 percent in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. According to the accepted definition, the economy is in recession, if it shows negative growth for two successive quarters. The recession is embedded in a period of ongoing economic slump, which started in the second quarter of 2011, with various quarters of economic decline. The economy declined by 0.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. The number of working days in the fourth quarter of 2012 is the same as one year previously. 

Exports continue to grow

Exports improved by 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter relative to one year previously. With an 8.8 percent growth, re-exports made a significant contribution. Exports of products manufactured in the Netherlands grew marginally, after showing decline in the third quarter. Exports of products made in the Netherlands are more profitable than re-exports. Exports of natural gas, petroleum derivatives and chemical products were considerably up in the fourth quarter.

Investments down

Fixed capital fomation declined by 5.2 percent in the fourth quarter from one year previously. Investments declined almost across the board, in particular in housing and civil engineering projects, but also in machinery and installations. Investments in computers improved, investments in transport equipment remained at the same level as one year previously.

Household consumption further in decline

Household spending was 2.3 percent down in the fourth quarter from one year previously. Household consumption has shrunk for nearly two years. The slump in the fourth quarter was more substantial than in the preceding quarters. Household consumption dropped across the board in the fourth quarter. Household spending on durable consumer goods fell by more than 9 percent. Car dealers and furniture retailers in particular felt the impact of the recession.

Government consumption was 1.1percent up from one year ago. The costs of social benefits increased notably. Government spending on public administration was at the same level in the fourth quarter as in the fourth quarter of 2011, after a marginal decline in the preceding quarters.

Substantial growth chemical and pharmaceutical industries

With a 9.0 percent downturn, the slump in the construction sector continued into the fourth quarter. Manufacturing output retained the level of one year ago. This is predominantly due to the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, which achieved good results, while output slackened in other parts of the sector  manufacturing industry. The mineral extraction sector also performed fairly well, as more natural gas was exported and domestic natural gas consumption was reduced. The sector commercial services showed a negative growth of 1.2 percent. 

Number of jobs back at level of 2007

The number of employee jobs dropped by 18 thousand in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter. The number of jobs was 93 thousand down from one year previously, i.e. a decline by 1.2 percent.  The number of jobs fell or remained at the same level in all industrial sectors in the fourth quarter. In the third quarter of 2012, employment still improved marginally in various industrial sectors. On average, the number of jobs was 63 thousand down in 2012  from 2011 and is back at the level of 2007.

Negative economic growth of 0.9 percent over the entire year 2012

If the entire year 2012 is taken into account, the economy showed a negative growth of 0.9 percent compared to one year previously. Household consumption declined by 1.4 percent and investments by 4.7 percent. Government consumption grew 0.7 percent, exports grew 3.1 percent. In 2011, the economy still showed a 1.0 percent growth. The most important  difference between 2011 and 2012 is that investments were still growing in 2011.