Inflation subsides as wages push higher to offset the sharp bite prices took on purchasing power last year. The wage increase in large companies and SMEs was 5.7% between April and July, according to data published this Wednesday by the Tax Agency. An increase that is added to the growth of 5.8% in the first quarter, and that allows improving purchasing power by exceeding the increase in prices, which between January and June was an average of 4%. Construction and real estate activities, manufacture of transport equipment, food and hotels and restaurants are some of the sectors that are growing above average.
“The increase in average gross yield remains high,” says the agency in a note accompanying the data. In fact, it exceeds the closing data for 2022 by more than one and a half points. “In the second quarter the rise was 5.7%, a rate almost identical to that of the first quarter of the year. The intensity of this increase responds to the gradual incorporation into salary reviews of the increases in the general level of prices that have been registered since mid-2021 and, consequently, it is not expected that significant changes will be observed in the rest of the year in this regard,” he added.
The Tax Agency publishes its Statistics on Sales, Employment and Salaries in Large Companies and SMEs for the second quarter of the year only one day after the Ministry of Labor released the data on collective agreements until July 31. The salary increase in the new and revised agreements —an umbrella under which there are nine million employees— has been 3.3%, in this case below the average increase in prices so far this year, which has been 3.8% average. If only newly signed agreements are considered —just over two million— the rise has been around 4.2% in the same period, so there has been a slight improvement in purchasing power.
The total number of wage earners is also growing, in line with the good affiliation and unemployment data. The increase was 3.3% in the first quarter in the companies that are part of the universe of the Tax Agency —the statistic is built from VAT returns and withholdings for work income—, more than one point lower than that registered between January and March. The greatest advance (8.8%) occurred in hotels and restaurants; the largest fall was registered by the extractive industry (-7.4%). In the semester as a whole, the increase in employment is 3.9%.
sales slow down
Total sales of large companies and corporate SMEs, on the other hand, slowed down, reflecting an economy that, both internally and externally, is cooling off. They advanced 1.4% between April and June, 2.7 points below the result of the first quarter of the year, which had “a certain positive bias”, the organization qualifies, due to the impact in 2022 of the strike of carriers in March. In the semester, the rise has been 2.8%, similar to that registered in the final stretch of 2022.
Domestic sales grew more than exports, but both at a much lower rate than in the previous quarter. The rise was 1.7%, compared to the 3.8% experienced between January and April. The evolution was very varied depending on the sector. Operations linked to consumption moved more slowly (1.4% compared to 5.3% between January and March); Capital sales were maintained (8.8% vs. 8.3% previously), with increases of more than 10% in the category of equipment and software and improvements in construction (+3.6%).
Exports had a more apathetic behavior. They grew only 0.6%, although the increase in the accumulated figure for the year was 3% —in the first quarter they advanced 5.4%—, compared to the double-digit figures of last year. Sales to third countries are the ones that have lost the most ground, with a fall between April and June of 2.9%, which represents the first decrease in two years. Exports to EU partners also slowed down, but did not go negative: they grew by 4.1%, some two points less than the previous quarter. Imports did contract, up to 2.6%, the second quarterly drop in a row.
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