• External demand continued to grow in the first quarter and contributed 2.8 percentage points to the annual rate of GDP, while national demand subtracted 3.2 points.
  • Job destruction slowed to 1.3% quarter-on-quarter. In relation to the first quarter of 2011, 655,200 full-time jobs were lost.

The Spanish economy maintained the rate of decline in the first quarter of 2012 and contracted 0.3% compared to the previous quarter. According to the results of the National Quarterly Accounting (CNTR), published by the INE, the GDP in volume, adjusted for calendar and seasonality, registered in the first quarter a quarterly rate of -0.3%, identical to that of the previous quarter. In year-on-year terms, GDP decreased by 0.4% after seven quarters of consecutive gains (0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011). Growth from January to March in the euro zone was null, both in year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter terms.

These results are in line with the macroeconomic forecasts approved by the Government last April and are compatible with the Stability Objective for the period 2012-2015, which foresees a decrease in GDP for this year of 1.7%.

Net external demand continued to evolve positively, with a contribution of 2.8 percentage points to the year-on-year rate of GDP in the first quarter, four tenths less than in the previous quarter. On the contrary, national demand continued to hinder growth, subtracting 3.2 points from the year-on-year change in output, three tenths more than in the fourth quarter of last year.

The smallest contribution of the net external demand to growth it was a consequence of the slowdown in exports, which increased 2.2%, three points less than in the fourth quarter of 2011, while imports decreased 7.2% year-on-year, 1.3 points more than in the previous quarter . In quarter-on-quarter terms, both imports and exports moderated the intensity of the fall, more than five points and seven tenths, respectively, to record rates of -1.3% and -0.9%.

The need for external financing of the Spanish economy decreased by 2,102 million euros compared to the first quarter of 2011, representing a decrease of 13%.

All components of the national demand They smoothed the quarter-on-quarter rate of decline in the first three months of 2012. Thus, the final consumption expenditure of households it stabilized, after the 1% drop in the previous quarter. The variation rate of consumption of Public Administrations it stood at -0.3%, eight tenths higher than that of the previous quarter. For its part, the gross fixed capital formation reduced its quarter-on-quarter drop rate by 1.7 points, to 2.6%. This minor weakening was due both to the investment in equipment like to construction investment.

By branches of activityOnly the primary sector registered a positive quarter-on-quarter rate in the first quarter of 1.9%. The rest of the sectors recorded negative variations, of -3.1% in the case of the building and -0.4% in the industry and in the services.

The rate of destruction of job it eased three tenths in quarter-on-quarter terms, down to -1.3%. As a consequence, productivity per employed person also slowed three tenths, down to 1%. As compensation per employee went from falling 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to increasing by 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter of this year, there was a slowdown in the fall in unit labor costs, until the -0.5%, almost one point less than in the previous quarter.

From a medium-term perspective, the data for the first quarter confirm the prolongation of the process of correcting the macroeconomic imbalances of the Spanish economy. On the one hand, the need for external financing continued to decrease (0.8 pp compared to the first quarter of 2011) and the contribution of external demand to growth continued to be very important, although slightly lower than that of the previous quarter due to the transitory stagnation. of the euro zone. On the other hand, the continuity in the decline in private spending is consistent with further decreases in its debt indicators. Furthermore, the decrease in unit labor costs was maintained in terms similar to those of the last quarter, thus contributing to the trend gains in competitiveness that the Spanish economy has been experiencing.

Taking now a short-term perspective, it is also worth assessing positively the greater moderation in job destruction (once corrected for seasonal factors), as well as the more moderate fall in demand in quarter-on-quarter rates. These factors point to a gradual easing of the cyclical slump that the Spanish economy has been going through since the second half of 2011, an evolution that runs parallel to that of the euro area and that could lead to the recovery of positive quarterly growth rates in it towards midyear.

Source of the new