• National demand is the main engine of growth, driven by the dynamism of private consumption and investment
  • Employment grows at a rate of 3% and almost half a million full-time jobs are created in the year as a whole

GDP closed 2015 with an average annual rate of 3.2%, 1.8 points higher than in 2014 and the highest since 2007, according to National Accounts data released today by the National Statistics Institute. National demand is consolidated as the engine of growth, contributing 3.7 percentage points to GDP growth, 2.1 points more than in 2014, driven by the dynamism of private consumption and productive investment. Net external demand detracts half a point from growth, due to an acceleration of imports greater than that of exports. In year-on-year terms, almost half a million jobs are created, 3% more. The Spanish economy is the one that grows the most among the large developed countries, more than double the average for the Eurozone.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, the Spanish economy registered a quarter-on-quarter advance of 0.8%, the same as in the third quarter, which represents the tenth consecutive quarterly increase. In year-on-year terms, GDP accelerates one tenth, to 3.5%, which is the highest rate since the fourth quarter of 2007 (3.6%).

Among the components of national demand, the highest growth rate in 2015 corresponds to investment in fixed capital (6.4%) and, in particular, to capital goods and cultivated assets, which closed the year with an increase in 10.2%, three tenths lower than in 2014. Construction investment followed, with an annual rate of 5.3%, positive for the first time since 2007, and final consumption expenditure by households, which increased the 3.1%, compared to 1.2% the previous year. For its part, the final consumption expenditure of the Public Administrations experienced an increase of 2.7%, after the stabilization of the previous year, and intellectual property products grew by 1.8%, three tenths less than in 2014.

Regarding external demand, real exports of goods and services grew 5.4% in 2015, three tenths more than in 2014, and imports accelerated 1.1 points, to a rate of 7.5%, which explains the most negative contribution of net external demand to GDP growth in the past year. The greater dynamism of exports is due to both exports of goods and services, which closed 2015 with annual rates of 4.9% and 6.7%, respectively, four and three tenths higher than in 2014 The acceleration of imports is also due to goods and services, especially the latter, with growths of 7.4% and 8.1% in 2015 (6.7% and 4.5%, in 2014).

From the perspective of supply, in the last year activity in the main branches of activity grew, contributing the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the service sector 2.1 percentage points to the annual growth of GDP, that of industry 0.5 points and the construction 0.3 points. The contribution of the GVA of agriculture to the advance of the GDP was nil.

In line with the evolution of GDP, the number of employed persons, in terms of full-time equivalent employment, accelerated almost two points, scoring an annual rate of 3% in 2015. The higher rate of job creation is mainly due to to salaried employment, which went from growing 1.4% in 2014 to 3.4% in 2015. Productivity per employed person increased slightly, 0.2%, one tenth less than in 2014, and remuneration per employee increased by 0.5% after the decrease of 0.6% the previous year, so that unit labor costs increased 0.3% (-0.8% in 2014).

The GDP deflator recorded an annual rate of 0.6% in 2015, compared to the decrease of 0.4% in the previous year, and nominal GDP closed the year with an increase of 3.8%, compared to 1% in 2014 .

In relation to the fourth quarter of 2015, GDP growth is based on national demand, whose contribution to the year-on-year advance of GDP was 4.1 percentage points, as in the third quarter. For its part, net external demand detracted 0.6 percentage points, one tenth less than in the previous quarter.

In a more detailed analysis of the evolution of national demand, household final consumption expenditure increased by 0.8% in the quarter-on-quarter rate in the October-December 2015 period, three tenths less than in the previous quarter. On the other hand, the final consumption expenditure of the Public Administrations moderated the growth rate one tenth, to 0.4%, and gross fixed capital formation posted a quarter-on-quarter increase of 1.1%, two tenths lower than the previous quarter. The slowdown in investment was due to the lower dynamism of investment in equipment, which went from 2.6% in the third quarter to 1.9% in the fourth, and to the slight reduction in construction investment (0.6% , compared to 0.7% in the third quarter), partially offset by the rebound in intellectual property products (1.2%, compared to the stabilization of the previous quarter).

The smallest decrease in net external demand The year-on-year growth in GDP was due to an acceleration in exports that exceeded that of imports. Thus, exports increased by 5.3%, eight tenths more than in the third quarter, and imports by 7.7%, half a point more than in the July-September period.

In quarter-on-quarter terms, however, exports lose dynamism, going from growing 1.8% in the third quarter to 0.9% in the fourth, as a consequence of the decline in exports of goods (-0.2%, compared to to the 1.7% increase in the third quarter), while service exports accelerated 1.4 points, to record a quarter-on-quarter growth of 3.6%. Imports, for their part, slowed significantly, 2.8 points, due to the fall in imports of goods (-0.7%, after the 3.3% increase in the previous quarter), while imports of services rebounded to more than double the growth rate of the July-September period (5.4%, compared to 2.2%).

From the supply perspective, the GVA of the construction sector accelerated two tenths in the fourth quarter of 2015, registering a quarterly rate of 1.5%, while that of the agricultural sector maintained the rate of advance in 2, 7%. On the other hand, the growth rate of the GVA is moderate in industry (two tenths, up to 0.3%) and in services (three tenths, up to 0.6%).

The quarter-on-quarter rate of job creation, in terms of full-time equivalent jobs, moderated one tenth in the last quarter of 2015, down to 0.6%. In year-on-year terms, employment increased for the seventh consecutive quarter, registering a rate of 3%. As a consequence of the evolution of GDP and employment, productivity per employed person grew 0.5% year-on-year, two tenths more than in the previous quarter. For its part, compensation per employee increases 0.9% compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, eight tenths more than the previous quarter, so that unit labor costs accelerated six tenths between October and December, to 0.4 % YoY.

The annual rate of the GDP deflator remains at 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2015, positive for the fourth consecutive quarter. For its part, the deflator of final consumption expenditure by households moderates the rate of decline by one tenth, down to -0.3%.

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