Compared to the corresponding quarter last year and calendar adjusted, GDP rose by 1.5 percent. This should be seen from the perspective that inventory investments gave a negative contribution of 2.2 percentage points to GDP growth. This means that the underlying economy was going well despite the current debt crisis in Europe. Gross fixed capital formation accounted for the largest contribution to GDP development and increased by all of 11.4 percent during the first quarter, compared to the corresponding quarter last year. After tendencies towards a downturn during the second half of 2011, the rate of increase then rose considerably for investments during the first quarter. The increased tempo was seen in most of the types of investments, with the highest rate of investments in construction and industrial plants as well as machinery and equipment including means of transport. The picture is also mostly bright when looking at the different industries. Within the goods industries, energy investments increased the most, while the upswing within the service industries was more evenly distributed. The only really weak part was new construction of one- or two-dwelling buildings, where investments plummeted.
After two weak quarters, household consumption was once again one of the most important driving forces behind GDP growth. Household consumption increased by 1.1 percent compared to the previous quarter. The increase in the first quarter implies that household consumption has now regained the short-term drop during the second half of 2011, and is at a higher level than before the downturn. Households' expenditures for clothing and shoes increased the most rapidly, while transport expenditures continued to be dampened. The increase in consumption in the first quarter reflected an increased confidence for households, which consumed somewhat more of their disposable income than before. At the same time, savings decreased.
World trade with goods turned upwards during the first quarter after an unchanged fourth quarter last year. However, Swedish exports of goods increased more slowly than world trade and rose more in pace with the moderate increase in demand from the euro area. This was in spite of a good demand from the Nordic neighbouring countries. Instead there was good momentum in the exports of services; during the most recent decade these exports have been one of the fastest growing sectors in the Swedish economy. Together with a weak downturn in imports, net exports resulted in a contribution of 0.9 percentage points to GDP development.
The negative development for industry during the end of last year was shown to be temporary. Swedish industry recovered during the first quarter and is once again on the growth path. However, the picture is divided with certain industries still operating weakly. The service industries gave the boost while the goods industries moved more slowly. The manufacturing industry still was weak with production continuing to decrease. The manufacturing industry dropped for the fifth quarter in a row, even though the downturn in the first quarter was considerably less than the previous quarter. Employment in the business sector increased weakly and it was within the service industries that the increase occurred.
As a whole, relatively small changes occurred on the labour market during the first quarter. Employment increased weakly while unemployment was unchanged. Available jobs and vacancies within the private sector increased following a decrease for the last two consecutive quarters. The risks of unemployment for young people and women dropped while they increased for men. The growth rate for the number of hours worked slowed down.
In 2009 Sweden had the next highest share of GDP that went to individual public consumption among the OECD countries. One way to check the picture of economic welfare of households is to adjust the disposable income with the public welfare services that households consume. This creates a measurement that better describes economic welfare of different groups in society. An in-depth article provides a discussion and description of this area