Eurozone GDP Falls Most Since 1995

The euro area economy contracted at the fastest pace since 1995 as member countries initiated coronavirus containment measures in March, the revised estimate published by Eurostat showed on Tuesday.

Gross domestic product declined 3.6 percent sequentially in the first quarter, but slower than the initial estimate of -3.8 percent.

Nonetheless, this was the biggest contraction since the time series began in 1995. The fall reversed a 0.1 percent growth logged in the fourth quarter of 2019.

On a yearly basis, GDP shrank 3.1 percent, reversing previous quarter’s 1 percent expansion. The first quarter rate was revised from -3.3 percent and was the largest fall since the third quarter of 2009.

The expenditure-side breakdown of GDP showed that household spending dropped 4.7 percent and gross fixed capital formation was down 4.3 percent from the fourth quarter. At the same time, government spending dropped 0.4 percent.

Exports and imports decreased 4.2 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

Further, data showed that the number of employed persons decreased by 0.2 percent on quarter in the first quarter, which was the first decline in the time series since the second quarter of 2013.

On a yearly basis, employment grew 0.4 percent but weaker than the 1.1 percent increase seen in the previous three months.

About 160.4 million were employed in the first quarter, down 0.3 million from the previous quarter.

Eurostat said while the effect of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic on employment in persons was mitigated by government support schemes, the impact on hours worked is generally much more pronounced. The number of hours worked decreased by 3.1 percent sequentially.

In the first quarter, the EU27 shrank 3.2 percent from the previous quarter, the biggest fall since 1995. Year-on-year, GDP was down 2.6 percent, the largest since 2009.

The quarter-on-quarter change in GDP was revised from -3.5 percent and the annual rate from -2.7 percent.

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