On the basis of raw data, domestic GDP grew by 8.2% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2021. Contributing to this is the good performance of services in the first quarter, followed by the industrial sector, at around 1.2%. In terms of expenditure, the obvious contributor was the final consumption of households, which reached 6.9%. The current geopolitical environment undoubtedly weighs on growth and remains a significant adjustment variable for future activity, with EU sanctions and rising energy and raw material prices being risk factors. The Covid epidemic also seems to be slowly picking up in several countries, therefore the state measures to curb the phenomenon needs to be monitored in the coming months.
Domestic industry grew by 1.5% in June 2022 compared to the same month of the previous year, and it rose by 5.1% overall in the first six months compared to the first half of 2021. The volume of industrial exports expanded by 2.7% in the same period and domestic industrial sales increased by 7.1%. While the rubber and plastics products manufacturing and the manufacture of basic metals fell by 3.6% and 6.2% respectively, due to material supply disruptions, almost all key sub-sectors boosted industrial performance. Food production increased by 9.3% (accounting for 12% of the whole domestic manufacturing output) and in particular, electrical equipment production rose by 17% due to the batteries and accumulators. While the volume of new orders in the major subsections of manufacturing decreased by 3.2% compared to June 2021, the total stock orders increased by 22% compared to the same month of the previous year.
The second piece of good news relates to employment: the unemployment rate has reached 3.3% with around 160,000 people actively seeking employment, the lowest level since February 2020, but with a higher participation rate than before. This very good employment environment will mechanically stimulate consumption, which will hopefully contribute to the growth in the next six months. So far, this has been confirmed, with retail trade growing by 4.5% in June 2022 (+10.3% in the first 6 months of the year), driven mainly by second-hand goods, pharmaceutical and medical goods, computer equipment and automotive fuel. Fueled by both household activity and business developments, investment is and will hopefully remain one of the two strong drivers of economic expansion in the coming period. The construction sector contributed to the high performance of investments with a 9.9% increase, outperforming May 2021, thanks to the very good indicators in the residential sector. Investment in machinery and equipment was boosted by foreign trade.