Statistics Explained

Quarterly national accounts - GDP and employment

Data extracted on 20 April 2022.

Planned article update: 20 July 2022.

Highlights

GDP up by 0.3 % and employment up by 0.4 % in the euro area in the fourth quarter of 2021.

GDP up by 0.5 % and employment up by 0.4 % in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2021.

GDP and employment growth rates, % change over the previous quarter, based on seasonally adjusted data, 2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_a10_e)

This article presents key messages and data extractions based on Eurostat's updated estimation of quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) and employment for the fourth quarter of 2021 in the European Union (EU) and euro area (EA-19) released on 20 April 2022. This completes a sequence of quarterly estimates of European main national accounts aggregates (including employment) that are based on available country data (see previous news releases).

Compared to the previous release on 8 March 2022, growth rates for GDP were revised slightly up for the EU (from +0.4 % to +0.5 %) and stayed unchanged for the euro area while employment in persons was revised slightly down (from +0.5 % to +0.4 %) for both the euro area and the EU. Please note that the Greek data have a series break in 2010 resulting from the benchmark revision implemented from 2010 onwards. The Greek data incorporated in the aggregates have been adjusted to preserve the growth rates of the time series for periods before 2010. Moreover, particular developments of GFCF that are observed in the aggregates are often related to the activities of MNEs in the Irish economy.

Growth rates of GDP and employment aggregates in the fourth quarter of 2021 remain influenced by the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and containment measures in Member States. Eurostat has published a note on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on national accounts. In addition to this, guidance on quarterly national accounts (including flash) estimates in the context of the COVID-19 crisis was provided, as well as country specific metadata on the impact of the COVID-19 on GDP estimates for the fourth quarter of 2021.


Full article


Quarterly GDP growth

GDP up by 0.3 % in the euro area and by 0.4 % in the EU

GDP increased by 0.3 % in the euro area (EA-19) and 0.5 % in the EU during the fourth quarter of 2021, compared with the previous quarter, according to an estimate (see Data sources below) published by Eurostat. These increases follow an increase in the third quarter of 2021 (2.2 % in both the euro area and in the EU).

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP increased by 4.7 % in the euro area and by 4.9 % in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2021, after an increase of 4.1 % in the euro area and 4.2 % in the EU in the previous quarter.

During the fourth quarter of 2021, GDP in the United States increased by 1.7 % compared with the previous quarter (after +0.6 % in the third quarter of 2021). Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, GDP increased by 5.5 % (after 4.9 % in the previous quarter).

Table 1: Growth rates of GDP in volume (based on seasonally adjusted data), 2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_gdp) and (naidq_10_gdp) for JP, US data


Figure 1: GDP growth rates, % change over the previous quarter, based on seasonally adjusted data, 2008Q1-2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_gdp) and (naidq_10_gdp) for US data

GDP growth by Member State

Among the Member States, the sharpest increases were recorded in Slovenia (+5.4 %), Denmark (+3.0 %), Malta (+2.3 %), Spain (+2.2 %) and Hungary (+2.0 %) in the fourth quarter of 2021, while the highest decreases were observed in Ireland (-5.4 %), Austria (-1.5 %) and Germany (-0.3 %).


Figure 2: GDP growth rates by Member State, % change over the previous quarter, based on seasonally adjusted data, 2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_gdp)

GDP components and contributions to growth

During the fourth quarter of 2021, household final consumption expenditure decreased by 0.3 % in both the euro area and in the EU (after +4.4 % in the euro area and +4.3 % in the EU in the previous quarter). Government final consumption expenditure increased by 0.5% in the euro area and 0.9 % in the EU (after +0.3 % in the euro area and +0.2 % in the EU in the previous quarter). Gross fixed capital formation increased by 3.4 % in the euro area and by 2.9 % in the EU (after -1.1 % and -0.9 % respectively). Exports increased by 2.8 % in the euro area and by 3.0 % in the EU (after +1.8 % in the euro area and +1.5 % in the EU). Imports increased by 4.6 % in the euro area and by 4.1 % in the EU (after +1.5 % in both the euro area and in the EU).

Household final consumption expenditure had a negative contribution to GDP growth in both the euro area and the EU (-0.2 percentage points – pp, respectively in both areas). The contribution of gross fixed capital formation was positive in the euro area and in the EU (+0.7 pp and +0.6 pp, respectively). Changes in inventories had a positive contribution to GDP growth in both the euro area and in the EU (+0.2 pp in both areas). The contribution of the external balance was negative in the euro area and in the EU (-0.6 pp and -0.4 pp, respectively).

Figure 3: Decomposition of GDP growth by expenditure aggregates, (over the previous quarter) in percentage points, 2021Q1-2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_gdp)

Quarterly employment growth

Number of persons up by 0.4 % in both the euro area and in the EU

The number of persons employed increased by 0.4 % in both the euro area in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the previous quarter. In the third quarter of 2021, employment increased by 1.0 % in the euro area and by 0.9 % in the EU. Hours worked increased by 0.1 % in the euro area and by 0.2 % in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2021 (after increasing by 2.1 % and by 1.7 % respectively in the third quarter of 2021).

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment based on persons increased by 2.1 % in both the euro area and in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2021 (after also +2.1 % in both the euro area and in the EU in the third quarter of 2021). Number of hours worked increased by 5.0 % in both the euro area and in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2021 (after +3.4 % and +3.2 % respectively in the third quarter of 2021).

These data on employment provide a picture of labour input consistent with the output and income measure of national accounts.

Table 2: Growth rates of employment in persons (¹), 2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_a10_e)


Table 3: Growth rates of employment in hours worked (¹), 2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_a10_e)


Figure 4: Growth of employment in persons and hours worked, % change over the previous quarter, based on seasonally adjusted data, 2008Q1-2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_a10_e)

Employment growth by Member State

Among EU Member States, the sharpest increases in employment in persons were observed in Hungary (+1.2 %), Denmark (+1.1 %) and Malta (+1.0 %). Latvia (-0.3 %) recorded the highest decline in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the previous quarter.

The impact on employment in hours worked is generally more pronounced than in persons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greece (+5.7 %), Lithuania (+1.9 %), Slovenia (+1.6 %) and Malta (+1.4 %) experienced the highest increases among Member States. Estonia (-5.6 %), Slovakia (-1.8 %), Austria (-1.7 %) recorded the largest decreases.

Figure 5: Employment growth rates, % change over the previous quarter, based on seasonally adjusted data, 2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_a10_e)

Employment levels

Employment in persons increased by 0.7 million in the euro area and by 0.9 million in the EU

Based on seasonally adjusted figures, Eurostat estimates that in the fourth quarter of 2021, 210.9 million people were employed in the EU, of whom 161.8 million were in the euro area. In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, employment in persons in the euro area was 0.6 million above the level of the fourth quarter of 2019, and 1.1 million above this level in the EU.

While the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment in persons was mitigated by government support schemes, the impact on hours worked was generally much more pronounced.


Figure 6: Evolution of employment in persons and hours worked, Index 2015=100, based on seasonally adjusted data, 2008Q1-2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_a10_e)

Labour productivity

The combination of GDP and employment data allows an estimation of labour productivity. The analysis of growth compared to the same quarter of the previous year shows that productivity growth (based on employed persons) fluctuated around 1.0 % for both zones between 2013 and 2018 before the COVID-19 pandemic caused high volatility in 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, productivity based on persons increased by 2.5% in the euro area and by 2.7 % in the EU compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Based on hours worked, productivity compared to the same quarter of the previous year decreased by 0.2 % in the euro area and remained negligible in the EU.


Figure 7: Labour productivity growth rates, % change over same quarter of the previous year, based on seasonally adjusted data, 2008Q1-2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (namq_10_lp_ulc)

Source data for tables and graphs

Excel.jpg Detailed tables of GDP and Employment estimate 2021Q4

Data sources

Eurostat collects GDP and employment data in the framework of ESA 2010. See here for more details. Additional information on the dissemination of ESA 2010 data is available under latest news on the dedicated website and in the database section National accounts (ESA 2010) (na10)

European aggregates are revised at specific release dates. The preliminary flash estimate of GDP growth of the first quarter of 2022 will be released on 29 April 2022 and will be updated on 17 May 2022. The next regular estimates of European aggregates are due on 8 June 2022 (for both GDP and employment estimates). Revision triangles for GDP for the euro area and the EU can be found here. These revision triangles are updated once per quarter.

Please note that most EU countries carried out benchmark revisions in September-October 2019. A few countries conducted their benchmark revisions in August-October of 2020 and Luxembourg in 2021. A smaller group of countries had already carried out their benchmark revisions in the earlier years (between 2016 and 2018).

For further details see the Eurostat website. Analysis explaining on how coordinated benchmark revisions has changed the annual main GDP aggregates was provided in an article in the end of October 2019.


Context

Quarterly figures on the evolution of gross domestic product (GDP) and its main aggregates are among the most significant indicators of the state of any economy, be it at a national or European level, and are of key interest to users. Typical users of quarterly national accounts (QNA) figures are market analysts, forecasters or economic and monetary policy advisors interested in assessing the state of the current business cycle.

The ESA 2010 distinguishes between two employment concepts depending on geographical coverage: resident persons in employment (i.e. the national scope of employment) and employment in resident production units irrespective of the place of residence of the employed person (i.e. domestic scope). The ESA 2010 recognises several employment measures: persons, hours worked and jobs. Eurostat publishes mainly employment data measured in persons and in hours worked.

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