Netherlands GDP grew 2.7% in 2018; lower than 2017

The Dutch economy, measured by gross domestic product, grew by 2.7 percent last year. That is somewhat less growth than in 2017, when the highest economic growth since the financial crisis was achieved, Statistics Netherlands reported on Monday.

As in previous years, the economic growth in 2018 was largely due to increased employment. Household consumption contributed most to the economic growth last year. Investments in fixed assets also made a larger contribution. In previous years, foreign trade was the driving force behind the economic growth.

The number of hours worked increased by 2.4 percent to a record high last year. Labor productivity - GDP per hour worked - grew by 0.3 percent. The number of jobs increased sharply to a new record number of 10.4 million. And the Netherlands counted the most people with a paid position in history, according to the stats office.

The number of vacancies increased to 248 thousand, higher than the record number in 2008. Unemployment fell to its lowest level after 2008 and amounted to an average of 350 thousand. Due to the rising vacancies and falling unemployment, the tension on the labor market increased further in the last quarter of 2018. In the fourth quarter last year there were 80 vacancies per 100 unemployed - breaking the record of 79 vacancies per 100 unemployed shortly before the financial crisis.

The net real disposable income of Dutch households increased by 2.6 percent last year. Income growth was positive for the fifth year in a row, and 2018 saw the largest growth in households' net real disposable income after 2001, when disposable income increased by 6.4 percent. 

The Dutch economy was booming in 2018, according to the stats office. The economic boom reached a peak in August, after which the economic situation became less positive for seven consecutive months. Consumer confidence is one of the indicators that deteriorated most over the past months. Consumer confidence peaked at 25 in April last year, and started falling after that. In February 2019, consumer confidence was negative for the first time in three years. The mood deteriorated further in March. 

"Consumer sentiment is often ahead of the economy. However, negative consumer confidence does not always mean that the economic situation will deteriorate", Statistics Netherlands said. In 2007, the fall in consumer confidence was one of the first signs of the approaching financial crisis.