Tourism is one of the driving forces behind Malaga's economy, which explains why it stands out in Andalucía. Ñito Salas
Malaga leads GDP and employment growth in Andalucía

Malaga leads GDP and employment growth in Andalucía

The province's economy grew by 3.6% in 2023, above the region's average

Cristina Vallejo


Monday, 3 June 2024, 13:38

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Malaga's economy grew by 3.63% last year, according to new data. The figure, released by the Annual Provincial Accounts of Andalcía, again confirms Malaga as the most dynamic province in the region.

The growth of the Andalusian GDP was limited to 2.45%, according to the data. Meanwhile, two provinces recorded growth below one percentage point: Cordoba (0.45%) and Jaen (0.93%). Among the provinces that grew more than the regional average were Granada (2.84%), Cadiz (2.80%) and Almeria (2.56%), but the growth in Seville was limited to 2.24%, according to the figures.

The accompanying graphs show a slowdown in the last year compared to the previous ones, but this is logical after the extraordinary years marked by the pandemic, which first caused GDP to plunge and then a powerful rebound, followed by a stabilising period in which Malaga stands out. The conclusion, therefore, is that the dynamic growth is being maintained and that this is also reflected in the labour market.

Malaga was also the Andalusian province where employment grew the most in 2023: the rise was 4.56%, to over 728,000 jobs in total (609,000 employees). The average increase in employment in Andalucía was 3.45%, to 3.45 million workers. Behind was Huelva, whose rise was limited to 1.75%. But Seville was the province that closed the year with the highest number of workers in the region: more than 823,000, although its growth was limited to 3.62%, a figure slightly above the Andalusian average and one point below Malaga's growth.

Malaga also tops another Andalusian ranking: growth in employee remuneration, which increased by 9% in 2023 - this is explained by its leadership in employment generation, because the Andalusian institute in this case does not take the average remuneration per worker, but the aggregate wage volume. Malaga residents received a total of 19,033 million euros in wages, and Andalusians as a whole received more than 94,600 million euros.

Research group Analistas Económicos de Andalucía presented a report last week, attributing the leading role of Malaga economy's growth to household demand and the services sector, especially commerce, transport and hotels and restaurants. This has been boosted by tourism, with the drive compensating for a decline in the industry and agricultural sectors.

Social partners' reading

The social partners rate the province's economic data very highly, although they also pointed out the challenges and risks ahead. The president of the Confederation of Employers of Malaga (CEM), Javier González de Lara, pointed out how the growth of Malaga translates for his sector: one out of every three companies born in Andalucía has its headquarters in Malaga, where last year more than 600 new companies were registered per month and around 7,000 in the year, while at the same time, a historic number of self-employed workers was reached.

"Malaga is experiencing a moment in history with the highest number of contributors to the Social Security system, but the data from the Tax Agency show that only one in four workers is in full-time employment twelve months of the year"

The Association of Economists pointed out Malaga continued to show figures above the Andalusian - and also Spanish - average, and described the province's economy as "robust" because it "kept up the pace" despite a lower number of tourist arrivals from some European countries. But the economists also urged caution on several aspects, including employment.

And here he linked the criticism of the provincial secretary of Comisiones Obreras, Fernando Cubillo: "It is true that Malaga is experiencing the moment in history with the highest number of contributors to the social security and that this year the growth in employment is also being maintained, but the data from the tax agency indicate that only one in four workers has a full-time job for 12 months of the year". If the jobs created in the past seven years had been entirely for people from Malaga, and not for those who come from other countries, the province would be in a situation of full employment, he added. "The Malaga labour market requires highly trained personnel, in Malaga we must make a greater effort in training," said Cubillo.

González de Lara pointed out the high unemployment rate in the province, but does not interpret it strictly as a result of the local economy, but rather as a consequence of its attractiveness, which translates into a continuous growth of the population.

Future challenges: economic and social

The Association of Economists also pointed out challenges for the economy of Malaga to maintain its growth: for example, investment in infrastructure, especially transport - and the institution highlighted how the tendering of public works by all administrations has plummeted in the first quarter of the year. Also, the real estate market, with the intense increase in the price of housing due to the imbalance between a very low supply and a very intense demand. And finally, the drought: "Water is a fundamental issue, both for tourism and for agriculture. We must not abandon this problem," said Antonio Pedraza, vice-dean of the Malaga Association of Economists.

2.7% The amount Malaga province's economy will grow this year

According to forecasts by Analistas Económicos de Andalucía, which predicts that the region's expansion will be limited to 1.8%

Nevertheless, the forecasts presented are still painting a good picture of Malaga. For the moment, the Unicaja group company has already detected that in the first months of this year employment growth has accelerated. It also anticipates the province will grow by 2.7% this year, above the 1.8% forecast for the region. This growth will continue to be based on domestic demand, especially private consumption, given that investment and public consumption could show greater weakness, due to higher interest rates. Tourism is also expected to contribute its share, especially international demand.

However, there is a pending social issue, which is the result of the report presented last week by Cáritas Diocesana, according to which almost half of the people who seek help at its facilities have a job, but precarious and insufficiently paid, to which must be added another 10% of people who are pensioners but who receive meagre benefits. These are the new poor who are added to the chronically poor, who make up a third of those assisted by the charity and who are children and even grandchildren of people who were already attending Caritas. Those in charge of the NGO also point to the urgency of the housing situation in Malaga, which is "chaotic" and represents a problem for almost half of its beneficiaries.

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