Half of Dutch saw purchasing power decrease last year

Plastic shopping bags (Photo: EdouardHue/Wikimedia Commons)Plastic shopping bags (Photo: EdouardHue/Wikimedia Commons)

Almost half, 46 percent, of the Dutch population saw their purchasing power decrease last year, Statistics Netherlands reported on Thursday. The purchasing power developments varied considerably in 2017. For a fifth of the population, purchasing power decreased by at least 7 percent. Another fifth saw their purchasing power increase by 10.9 percent.

The median purchasing power of the Dutch population increased by 0.5 percent in 2017, compared to 3 percent the year before. The purchasing power increase in 2017 lagged behind the Dutch economy, which grew by almost 3 percent. According to the stats office, this is because real wages did not rise in 2017 - while wages rose by an average of 1.4 percent, consumer prices on average increased by the same percentage. 

Employees saw the strongest purchasing power increase with a median of 1.4 percent. They benefited from fiscal measures like the increase in the work allowance and also benefited from an improvement in the labor market. Nevertheless, purchasing power decreased for 42 percent of employees, for example because they worked fewer hours. 

The purchasing power for self employed is currently estimated at 0.7 percent higher than in 2016, according to the stats office. Their income consists mainly of profit, which for some self-employed has not yet been definitively determined.

Last year pensioners suffered under the non- or limited indexation of supplementary pensions, combined with the relatively large increase in consumer prices. This led to a median decrease in purchasing power of 0.3 percent. Purchasing power fell for 56 percent of Dutch pensioners last year. In 2016 consumer prices did not increase much and the purchasing power of pensioners increased by 0.8 percent.

The purchasing power of the elderly hardly recovered after the economic crisis, according to the stats office. In 2013 pensioners' purchasing power was 6 percent lower than in 2008. Despite the economic improvement in the years since, their purchasing power hardly increased. Statistics Netherlands mainly attributes this to pensioners largely being unable to change their income situation. Their purchasing power development is therefore highly dependent on the indexation of pensions and additional fiscal measures.

The purchasing power of the working population was very positive for several years in a row after 2013. "Working in economically favorable times often improve their income position and in bad times they only lose significantly if, for example, the lose their jobs", the stats office said.