- The composition is more balanced thanks to a rebound in exports of 8.4%, the highest rate in six years
- Investment accelerates to 3.8%, especially investment in capital goods, which grows 5%
- The differential with respect to the euro area remains favorable to Spain, which is already close to the maximum level of GDP before the crisis
The Spanish economy grows at an annual rate of 3% in the first quarter of the year and 0.8% quarter-on-quarter, one tenth more than the previous quarter, according to the National Accounts data published by the INE. This continues the strong drive of economic activity thanks in part to investment, which translates into the creation of 435,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the last year. This is more balanced growth, since the foreign sector contributes 0.8 points to GDP thanks to exports increasing at a rate of 8.4%, the highest in the last six years. Spain maintains a high growth differential in relation to the euro area and is already approaching the maximum level of GDP before the crisis.
After the data for the first quarter of the year, the Spanish economy begins the fourth year of the economic recovery. It does so at rates of 0.8% quarter-on-quarter and 3% annually, which is eight consecutive quarters with an advance equal to or greater than this percentage. This keeps the pace of economic activity at the beginning of 2017, which, according to the indicators available so far, also occurs during the second quarter, according to a prudent estimate. If this trend is confirmed, the Government's forecast contained in the Stability Program sent to Brussels, which estimates an average annual growth of 2.7% in 2017, would comfortably be met.
In this way, the growth differential favorable to Spain in relation to the euro area average is maintained, which, according to the latest Eurostat data, has stood at 0.5% quarter-on-quarter and 1.7% year-on-year. It also exceeds the growth data of large countries such as Germany (1.7% year-on-year and 0.6% quarter-on-quarter), France (0.8% and 0.3%) or Italy (0.8% and 0.2% ) and also from the United Kingdom (2.1% and 0.3%). The speed of Spanish growth makes it possible to touch the maximum income level prior to the crisis in the first quarter of the year, a volume that will be exceeded in the second quarter, according to the latest indicators.
The growth of the Spanish economy has internal demand as the main engine (contributes 2.2 points), but its composition is balanced a little more thanks to the contribution of the foreign sector, positive for the fourth consecutive quarter. Household consumption moderates half a point in the annual rate, up to 2.5%, while public consumption stabilizes (0.1%). The investment gains dynamism (3.8%, 1.6 points more), especially that for capital goods, which accelerated more than two points, reaching an annual rate of 5%. Investment in construction accelerates 1.1 points, to 3%. The foreign sector contributes 0.8 points, thanks to the fact that exports grow (8.4%) well above imports (6.4%), reflecting the competitiveness gains of the Spanish economy.
Employment increased by 2.5%, two tenths less than the previous quarter, which means the net creation of 435,000 new equivalent full-time jobs in the last year. Taking into account the evolution of the associated average working day, there is an acceleration of three tenths in the annual rate of hours actually worked, which stands at 1.8%. The remuneration of employees increases from 2.9% to 3.1% in the annual rate and the average per employee increases 0.4%, compared to 0.1% in the fourth quarter of last year. The unit labor cost stands at -0.1% in the first quarter.