EU rules and additional data result in smaller first quarter contraction of Dutch economy

  • First estimate according to new international regulations
  • New data put economy in clearer focus
  • New rules and new data result in economic contraction of 0.6 percent in first quarter

From today, the Netherlands is one of the first countries in the European Union to comply with the new international guidelines for national accounts. From September 2014 these new regulations will become obligatory for all EU member states.  This will affect macro-economic figures already published, and thus also the first estimate of first quarter economic growth published earlier this year.

New international regulations and new data sources

The new rules are one of the factors resulting in more weight being assigned to recent economic developments - such as globalisation and the rapid rise of the ICT sector - in the compilation of the figures. This results in higher growth rates in recent years, among others in the electrical engineering sector in particular. In addition, new data sources have also been used for parts of the estimate: for example, wage declarations and VAT data from the Tax and Customs Administration, new statistics from the Dutch central bank, and information from the new trade register of the Chamber of Commerce.

Furthermore, the relative significance of economic activities has been re-assessed.  An important example is the weight of the natural gas sector in the overall Dutch economy. Gas production and consumption were substantially lower in the first quarter than in the same quarter in 2013, mostly because of the mild winter. As announced earlier, on 15 May, this had a negative effect on economic growth in the first quarter of 2014. The relative contribution of natural gas production and consumption to the overall Dutch economy has decreased, however. As a result, the strong decrease in gas production and consumption had a smaller effect on total economic growth in the second than in the first estimate.

This whole process is also known as a “revision”.  Revisions are a normal part of the compilation of national accounts and are conducted on a regular basis.  The first results of this revision for 2010 figures were published on 6 March.

Clearer picture of business services and hotels and restaurants sectors

In addition to the implementation of new regulations, new data have also become available from companies in the business services and hotels and restaurants sectors. This is also an important addition affecting the second estimate of economic growth. At the time the first estimate is compiled, information is available from some 30 percent of companies in the business services and hotels and restaurants sectors. On the basis of this information, every quarter Statistics Netherlands compiles a first estimate of developments in these sectors of industry and fine-tunes this picture as more data become available. In this way a first provisional estimate can be made very quickly - within 45 days after the end of the quarter concerned.  For the second estimate, after 90 days, information is available from around 90 percent of businesses. This additional information shows that developments in business services and hotels and restaurants were more positive in the first quarter than previously estimated.  As a result of this, economic growth was higher in the second estimate than in the first estimate. 

Second estimate of economic growth in first quarter 2014

Statistics Netherlands published the first estimate of economic growth on 15 May: -1.4 percent. On the basis of the new EU regulations and the additional data, the second estimate has now been compiled. The negative growth is smaller than previously published: -0.6 percent in the first quarter. The difference is almost completely accounted for by the effects described above.

Compared with the same period last year, the Dutch economy experienced zero growth. According to the previous estimate, the Dutch economy shrank by 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the first quarter of 2013.

Job losses in first quarter: 21 thousand

The additional available information has also resulted in a slight adjustment of figures on jobs. According to the second estimate, there were 21 thousand fewer jobs of employees in the first quarter of 2014 than in the previous quarter. The first estimate put this fall at 32 thousand. Compared with twelve months previously, the decrease was 114 thousand jobs. Wages per labour year were 1.5 percent higher in the first quarter than in the first quarter of 2013.

Revised year and quarterly figures for 2001-2013

Along with the second estimate for the first quarter of 2014, the time series 2001-2013 has also been revised. For the most recent years, for which additional information has also been incorporated, the estimate for 2011 is 1.7 percent (previously 0.9 percent), for 2012 -1.6 percent (previously -1.2 percent) and for 2013 -0.7 percent (previously -0.8 percent).

In addition to the year figures, the quarterly figures for 2001-2013 have also been revised. For a number of quarters this has resulted in larger differences with the previous estimates. The overall economic trend remains unchanged.