Gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2022: continued recovery, disparate sectoral trends
Bern, 31.05.2022 - Switzerland's GDP grew by 0.5% in the first quarter, following on from a 0.2% increase in the last quarter of 2021.* The recovery continued as expected, driven largely by the industrial sector. Parts of the service sector were held back at the beginning of the quarter by the most recent wave of the pandemic and the accompanying restrictions.
Value added in manufacturing (+1.7%) saw another robust increase in the first quarter. While growth slowed in the chemical and pharmaceutical sector, other industries gained significant momentum, underpinned by rising demand in key trading partner countries. This was accom-panied by stronger growth in goods exports** (+1.4%) than the historical average. Exports were up for numerous goods including precision instruments, watches and jewellery, machinery and metals. Goods imports** (+6.1%) saw an even sharper rise, largely driven by stronger imports of chemical and pharmaceutical products.
Industrial growth also boosted parts of the service sector. For example, wholesale trade turned in a positive performance and prevented a steeper decline in trade (−0.1%) overall. The transport and communications sector (+0.2%) was also bolstered by the increased transfer of goods, although growth in this sector was dampened by reduced mobility levels amid the most recent wave of the pandemic.
Public health measures had significantly less impact on the economy in the first quarter than in previous waves and were already being eased from February onwards. Consequently, the sectors directly affected did not experience any real slump in value added this time. Accommodation and food services was the only sector to see a noticeable decline (−2.2%). The rebound in international guest numbers stalled at the beginning of the year, while the requirement/recommendation to work from home curbed demand in the restaurant sector. In line with this, retail sales in the food sector increased. In other areas of private consumption (+0.4%), there were signs of some normalisation: non-food purchases slackened at a high level, while more trips abroad were again made.
The only other component of domestic final demand to grow significantly was government consumption (+1.4%), driven by pandemic-related spending. Investment in equipment (–3.1%) fell significantly after a strong previous quarter. This is largely explained by the volatile investments in research and development. In line with the decline in value added in the construction sector (–0.4%), construction investment (–0.7%) also fell again, constrained by bottlenecks in intermediate products, among other things.
Further information on GDP in the first quarter can be found in the summer 2022 edition of Konjunkturtendenzen (Economic situation in Switzerland) at www.seco.admin.ch/gdp.
The coronavirus pandemic has also had an impact on statistical production. As recommended by Eurostat, the European statistics office, the basic data and methods used for calculating the current GDP have been reviewed in depth. This ensures that no distorting effects arise as a result of the pandemic.*** Nonetheless, it is possible that, given the current data situation, more extensive revisions than usual will be necessary in the coming quarters.
* Quarter-on-quarter growth rates in real terms. Adjusted for sporting events, GDP grew by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2022 and 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021.
** Excluding valuables.
*** Cf. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/metadata/covid-19-support-for-statisticians
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