The Dutch economy grew by 4.5 percent in 2022. In 2021 this was still 4.9 percent. The economy has never grown so fast for two years in a row this century. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands in the annual overview of the Dutch economy in 2022. ‘We have fallen back into our old pattern in our consumption pattern,’ says BNR’s house economist Han de Jong.
De Jong does see ‘an enormous shift in 2022’. ‘In our consumption pattern we have reverted to our old pattern. Part of the service sector was closed due to corona and the lockdowns, then we switched from consuming services to consuming goods. That went back again last year; the consumption of goods has fallen, but that of services has risen sharply.’
How can consumers afford all that given the high inflation? According to De Jong, part of the answer is that we draw on our reserves. The most important thing, however, is that we started working more hours. ‘A considerable number of jobs have been added: four percent of that four and a half percent economic growth comes from the increased number of hours worked.’
However, labor productivity is not growing. The numbers are difficult to interpret. You really have to look at it over the long term. What mainly helps labor productivity is when companies invest in better technology. The tools you have determine your productivity.’ Last year, labor productivity rose by only 0.6 percent, which is disappointing.
‘The growth potential of the Dutch economy is limited. Economists estimate that our growth potential is just over 1 percent per year. We have grown almost ten percent in two years. We’re not going to keep that up.’
However, compared to neighboring countries, the Netherlands is doing well. ‘Perhaps on balance the government gave more support so that we could build up financial reserves.’