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Dutch economic growth unexpectedly strong17 February 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
The Dutch economy grew by 0,7 per cent in the final quarter of 2013, meaning that growth in the Netherlands is currently stronger than in Germany and France.
After modest growth in the previous quarter, state statistics bureau CBS's latest figures show that the recovery in the Dutch economy has accelerated. The economy has also improved by 0,7 per cent growth when compared with the last quarter of 2012.
Government positive over figures
Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp said he is happy with the figures, calling them "encouraging."
"Higher growth than the 0,5 per cent that the Central Planning Bureau predicts is well within [the economy’s] capabilities," he said. "We’re back on the right track."
The good results offer no reason, however, for the government to weaken on the coming budget cuts, according to the minister, who said the government still gives out more than comes in.
Indeed, spending by the Dutch government was down by 0,6 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier, mainly due to decreased spending on public administration.
Areas of growth
Ares where the Dutch economy showed improvement include investments in fixed assets, including commercial vehicles, buildings, machinery and computers, which were 5,3 per cent higher than a year ago. There was also a slight growth of 1,5 per cent in exports, while industrial production was up by 2,3 per cent.
Minister Kamp said that industry had pulled the economy through, with growth now achieved and set to continue.
More jobs lost…
The recovery has not totally turned the job market around, however, as there were 8.000 fewer jobs in the fourth quarter of 2013 than in the third. In total, there were 134.000 fewer jobs last quarter than in the last quarter of 2012, causing CBS to state that never before has there been such a sharp decline in employment.
Despite this, the decline is in fact slowing, as the most recent losses were much smaller than those of the third quarter of 2013, which saw a loss of 41.000 jobs.
…while job vacancies increase
The news is not all bad for people looking to find a job, however, as the number of vacancies in the Netherlands increased in the fourth quarter to 97.000, which is 3.000 more than the previous quarter.
This is the second consecutive quarter where job vacancies have increased, which is entirely attributable to private companies. There were small increases in almost all sectors, except for in financial institutions and the public service.
People still financially cautious
Household spending was 0,8 per cent less in the fourth quarter of 2013 than in that of 2012, with consumption now shrinking for almost three consecutive years.
People spent less on essentials such as energy and fuel, as well as on food and beverages. Consumption on durable goods such as cars, clothing and furniture, however, was higher than a year ago.
Trade union president Maurice Limmen said that while CBS says the economy is growing, the average worker is not yet benefitting from it.
"We are talking about jobless growth, which is a nightmare for workers. Only when there are more jobs can the economy really grow," he said.