Catalonia

The Catalonian economy has performed very similarly to the country as a whole in recent years. According to CaixaBank Research estimates, GDP grew by 5.6% in 2021, thanks to the upturn in household spending, domestic tourism (mainly urban) and exports.

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January 25th, 2023
Cataluña
7,680,000
inhabitants (2021)
€27,812
GDP per capita (2020)
19.0%
of Spanish GDP (2020)
4.7%
GDP growth forecast (2022)
Regional economic structure and position
  • Catalonia is the region with the second highest GDP, after Madrid, accounting for 19% of Spain’s total GDP.
  • With a population of almost 7.7 million inhabitants (16.2% of the Spanish population), it is also the second-largest region in demographic terms, after Andalusia.
  • In 2020 (latest available figure), GDP per capita stood at 27,812 euros, the fourth highest in the country and 17.4% above the average.
  • Catalonia has a highly diversified production sector, although it is most notable for the relative importance of its manufacturing industry (16.2% vs the Spanish average of 12.1%) and industry-related services (31.2% vs 29.8%) and services related to trade, transportation, hotels and restaurants, and leisure (24.7% vs 23.9%).
  • The region is highly export-oriented, with goods exports accounting for 31.2% of regional GDP (national average of 23.5%), making it the region with the highest volume of exports: 80.538 billion euros in 2021, 25.4% of the total. The main export sectors are the motor vehicle industry (12.0% of the total), pharmaceutical products (8.2%) and plastics and their manufactured goods (8.2%): the region accounts for almost 60% of Spanish exports of toys, over 40% of its meat and chemical products and more than 30% of its textile products and industrial machinery. Moreover, it is the region with the highest revenues from international tourism, with 21.319 billion euros in 2019 (23.2% of the total).

Table of structural indicators

 

   

1990

2000

2010

 

2020

GDP per capita

Euros

 

10,031

19,442

26,976

 

27,812

100 = Spain

 

120.9

121.7

117.1

 

117.4

Population

Thousands of inhabitants

 

6,062

6,315

7,493

 

7,671

Average annual growth over the decade (%)

 

0.2

0.4

1.7

 

0.2

% of total in Spain

 

15.6

15.5

16.1

 

16.2

% of population > 65 years old

 

4.9

5.1

4.4

 

5.1

Exports of goods as a proportion of GDP

%

 

27.4

24.2

 

31.2

 

 
Macroeconomic situation

The Catalonian economy has performed very similarly to the country as a whole in recent years. According to CaixaBank Research estimates, GDP grew by 5.6% in 2021, thanks to the upturn in household spending, domestic tourism (mainly urban) and exports.

For 2022, our forecasts indicate that Catalonia’s GDP will grow by 4.7%, a figure that is slightly higher than the Spanish average, putting it at 2.2% below pre-COVID levels: these levels will not be recovered until 2024. Activity will be boosted by the upturn in consumption, the rise in international tourism and a diversified production sector, which is better prepared to make good use of European funds and successfully overcome a climate of uncertainty, an energy crisis and bottlenecks in the global markets.

GDP

Last actualization: 12 January 2023 - 14:18

The performance of the Catalonian labour market is similar to the Spanish average: Registered workers affiliated to Social Security increased by 2.4% in 2021 (vs 2.5%), while in November this year, growth accelerated to 2.9% year-on-year
(
vs 2.7%) and stood at 4.5% above the level in November 2019 (+4.7% in Spain). In terms of the unemployment rate, it stood at 9.3% in Q3 2022, which is well below the average (12.7%) and is an improvement on pre-pandemic figures (10.5% in Q4 2019).

Consumption is performing better than it is nationwide. After growing by 3.2% in 2021 (vs 2.6%), the volume of retail and consumer goods in January-October 2022 fell by 0.7% year-on-year, chiefly due to the rise in prices. This compares to a somewhat more pronounced fall across Spain (–1.2%). In any event, they remain far below 2019 levels (–6.4% vs –4.6% on average in Spain).

Industrial production, which grew by 8.3% in 2021, above the Spanish average (7.1%), has been hit by bottlenecks in supply chains and rising energy prices in recent months. Consequently, performance has been more muted, with
a cumulative year-on-year growth of 1.2% up to October,
2 points less than in the country as a whole, putting it 2.1% below the level in 2019 (
vs –0.9%).

Exports are performing in line with the Spanish average, although they are somewhat subdued, hit by the supply crisis. After growing by 21.1% in 2021, one point more than in Spain, in the first 10 months of 2022, they grew by 17.0% year-on-year (vs +23.6%) and are now 24.2% higher than in 2019 (vs +31.2%). In terms of tourism, at the end of 2021, overnight stays in the region had fallen by 46.7% compared to 2019, slightly above the Spanish average (–45.0%), while in January-October 2022, the difference stood at –5.1% (–5.0% in Spain).

Retail trade

Last actualization: 12 January 2023 - 11:28

Exports of goods

Last actualization: 12 January 2023 - 14:26

Table of indicators

 

 

2008-2013 average

2014-2019 average

2020

2021

2022

Gap with 2019 (latest figure)

Latest figure

Activity and prices

Real GDP *
(% year-on-year change)

–1.8

2.9

–11.5

5.6

–6.6

2021

–1.8

2.8

–11.3

5.5

–6.4

Retail trade
(% cumulative annual change)

1.4

–8.2

3.2

–0.7

–6.8

October-22

2.3

–5.6

2.6

–1.2

–4.8

Industrial production index
(% cumulative annual change)

–3.4

1.8

–9.3

8.3

1.2

–9.1

October-22

–5.3

1.8

–9.2

7.1

3.3

–7.1

Service activity index
(% cumulative annual change)

4.6

–15.6

15.1

21.2

19.9

September-22

5.1

–15.6

15.8

22.4

22.3

Consumer price index
(% year-on-year change)

2.0

1.0

–0.4

2.9

6.4

11.0

November-22

1.7

0.7

–0.3

3.1

6.8

11.8

                 

Labour market

Registered workers affiliated to Social Security
(% year-on-year change)

–3.2

3.4

–2.4

2.4

2.9

4.5

November-22

–3.1

3.2

–2.1

2.5

2.7

4.7

Registered workers affiliated to Social Security not affected by furlough
(ERTE in Spanish) (% year-on-year change)

–3.2

3.4

–10.6

7.9

4.5

4.8

November-22

–3.1

3.2

–9.2

7.3

4.1

5.1

Unemployment rate
(% working population)

17.9

15.1

12,6

11.6

9.3

Q3 2022

20.2

18.8

15.5

14.8

12.7

Unemployment rate for under 25s
(% working population < 25)

39.7

35.2

34.0

28.9

25.7

Q3 2022

42.5

42.5

38.3

44.7

31.0

                 


Public sector

Public deficit
(% of GDP)

–3.4

–1.3

–0.4

–0.3

–0.9

Q2 2022

–2.7

–0.9

–0.2

0.0

–0.6

Autonomous Communities public debt (% of GDP)

18.6

34.2

37.5

36.0

34.6

Q3 2022

12.3

24.1

27.2

25.9

24.3

                 


Real estate market

Housing prices (% year-on-year change)

–10.3

7.1

2.0

3.5

6.4

13.6

Q3 2022

8.1

5.3

2.1

3.7

7.6

14.1

Housing sales (% cumulative annual change)

–6.1

11.1

–18.7

35.3

16.7

51.5

September-22

–10.8

9.7

–16.9

34.8

18.3

49.8

                 


Foreign sector and tourism

Exports of goods (% cumulative annual change)

3.1

4.2

–10.0

21.1

17.0

16.1

October-22

4.6

3.9

–9.4

20.1

23.6

32.0

Tourist overnight stays (% cumulative annual change)

2.2

3.0

–71.2

85.3

84.0

0.5

October-22

0.7

3.0

–69.2

78.3

83.0

0.7

Notes: *The 2021 GDP figure for the Autonomous Communities is an estimate made by CaixaBank Research.

Source: CaixaBank Research, based on data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), the Bank of Spain, Migration and Social Security (MITRAMISS), the Ministry of Finance and DataComex.

Regional comparison

Below we show a series of charts comparing the main indicators for the various regions.

Regional comparison

Last actualization: 10 January 2023 - 10:26