Construction activity in Malta in the first quarter of the year was up 2.9 percent on production during the last quarter of 2011, reversing the negative growth rate which had seen production during October-December fall by 5.2 percent from the levels registered in July-September 2011.
This is in marked contrast to the continuing negative trend in the Eurozone/EU27 when activity fell again by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of the year on top of a smaller decline in the last quarter of 2011.
Eurostat figures show that month-on-month variations were mostly negative throughout the EU, with double-digit declines in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Only 12 member states had positive growth rates, the highest growths being achieved in Belgium, Slovenia and, strangely enough, Greece.
In terms of annual variations, Malta again demonstrated an atypical result. Although Quarter 1 activity was 0.4 percent lower than last year’s level, it was well below the declines of 6.5 percent and 4.9 percent in Eurozone/EU27 production. Annual variations in the different member states ranged between -17.6 percent in Slovenia and 28.5 percent in Latvia.
On the other hand, turnover in services was uncharacteristically down by 9.8 percent in the first quarter of the year versus turnover the previous quarter, though only 0.8 percent below the year before. All the sub-sectors of the industry seem to be in tilt, but the ones that lost the most turnover vis-à-vis the last quarter of 2011 were the ones that have performed the best in the past, namely IT (-9.4%), professional services (-12.4%), and transportation (-18.6%). The wholesale and retail trade also suffered (-8.2%).
Compared on an annual basis, services turnover was only 0.8 percent down, with the declines being spread over four sub-sectors (trade, IT, professional services, and administrative services), whereas transportation was slightly up.
Employment was stationary both on a quarter-on-quarter basis and on an annual basis, but gross wages and salaries were 1.5 percent and 4.8 percent up respectively.
The lower turnover in services reflects the recession that hit the economy in late 2011 and early 2012.