Weekly WIFO Economic Index

14.09.2021

WWWI: Calendar Week 34 and 35 2021

The momentum of weekly economic activity according to WWWI weakened somewhat in calendar weeks 34 and 35 (23 August to 5 September 2021). According to preliminary calculations, GDP was 1.4 percent (calendar week 34) and 1.1 percent (calendar week 35) above the pre-crisis level, an average week in 2019 as a fixed reference period. Compared with the same calendar week in the previous year, GDP was 4.7 percent and 3.5 percent higher, respectively.

Recent information on the publication of the WWWI: in the future, the Weekly WIFO Economic Index will be published on WIFO's website on a 14-day basis. Currently, the additional observations for calendar weeks 34 and 35 have been included in the analysis.

The latest WWWI calculation takes into account the revision of the Quarterly National Accounts for the period from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021 and the first calculation by Statistics Austria for the second quarter of 2021, as well as the most recently published monthly statistics for overnight stays, retail sales and production indices for industry and construction for July 2021. Together with the specification check necessitated by the increased sample size and the re-estimation of the nowcasting model, this entailed the most comprehensive revision of the WWWI for GDP and its sub-components to date. The WWWI and its sub-aggregates were recalculated for the period from calendar week 1 2020 to calendar week 34 2021. The estimate for weekly GDP growth relative to the 2019 reference period, last published on 31 August 2021 for calendar weeks 32 and 33, as a result of the revision increased by 0.4 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively.

Although the determinants of WWWI continue to paint a favourable picture for calendar weeks 34 and 35, the momentum of expansion has weakened somewhat. Overall, sales of cashless payment cards were slightly below the level of the previous weeks. Passenger traffic at Vienna International Airport continued to increase, and recently also mobility according to Google mobility indicators increased again. For industry, the current edge showed a stabilisation, in particular energy consumption in the night hours was expanded again. The transport indicators in Austrian freight transport showed a (slight) increase, with the exception of rail transport. There were somewhat mixed signals from the labour market compared with the previous week. Nonetheless, unemployment continues to show strong declines compared with the same weeks last year. The number of job vacancies is also at an extremely high level.

With the start of the vacation season from calendar week 26, there was a further increase in private consumer spending; it exceeded pre-crisis levels for the first time. In calendar weeks 34 and 35, however, private consumption weakened slightly. With the peak of the main summer season passed in calendar week 33, travel exports and imports also lost momentum at the current edge, but the net contribution to GDP is still positive, as it was last summer. The net contribution of foreign trade in goods currently amounts to –0.3 percentage points.

On the output side, value added showed further slight increases compared with the pre-crisis level. In goods production and the construction industry, however, momentum continued to slow. According to the WIFO-Konjunkturtest (business cycle survey), the main reasons for this are production constraints in the areas of materials and capacity as well as labour supply.

 


Details on the WIFO Weekly Economic Index can be found here (xlsx).

The Weekly WIFO Economic Index (WWWI) is a measure of the real economic activity of the Austrian economy on a weekly basis. It is based on weekly, monthly and quarterly indicators. The index is scaled to the values of the rates of change in GDP against a corresponding reference period.

From 6 April 2021, the estimated percentage change in seasonally adjusted real aggregate economic activity in a calendar week is presented in two variants: firstly, as previously, in terms of the change from the same week a year earlier, and secondly, as a comparison to an average weekly value in 2019 (fixed reference period). This extended presentation is intended to support the contextualisation of the results. Starting with calendar week 11 2021, 15 to 21 March 2021, for the year-on-year comparison, both comparative values lie in the pandemic-related crisis period.

Since the economic slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the strict regulatory restrictions to contain it during 2020 was most severe in the first lockdown period, starting 16 March 2020, and consequently the comparison level is very low, the year-on-year percentage increase is exceptionally strong after a year of negative year-on-year rates of change. The calculation against a fixed 2019 reference period allows a comparison of the current GDP level with the pre-crisis level.

Please contact

Josef Baumgartner

Research groups: Macroeconomics and European Economic Policy

Christian Glocker

Research groups: Macroeconomics and European Economic Policy
© Alexander Müller
© Alexander Müller