After the strong expansion in the previous year, demand and output in Austria should maintain a similar pace in 2018, with
GDP growth expected at 3.2 percent. Leading indicators nevertheless foreshadow an increasing slowdown in momentum. GDP growth
will be noticeably weaker in 2019 (+2.2 percent). Heightened uncertainty concerning the external policy environment amplifies
the downward risks from the economic outlook of March 2018.
Family benefits in Austria, as a percentage of GDP, slightly exceed the OECD average. Monetary benefits largely dominate benefits
in kind, although their share has decreased markedly since 2000. At the same time, several reforms within the monetary benefit
system have encouraged fathers' involvement and improved the reconciliation of work and family for both parents. Austrian
family benefits, in a narrower definition, have increased from 6.6 billion € in 2000 to nearly 10.3 billion € in 2016. At
a ratio of 2.9 percent of GDP in 2016, family benefits have edged down from 3.1 percent in 2000 and have virtually stagnated
since 2006. Since the population up to age 19 is in secular decline, per-capita family benefits follow a long-term upward
trend, rising from 3,540 € per child in 2000 to almost 6,000 € nominal in 2016.
Austrian GDP grew by 0.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the previous period, after +0.9 percent in the
third and fourth quarter 2017. As a result, the economic momentum continued from the previous year and the boom phase continues.
The positive development of the real economy is also reflected in the labour market in an increase in employment and a decline
in unemployment. Inflation is currently still unusually restrained.
Following the financial and economic crisis leading to the recession of 2008-09, and the sluggish economic activity between
2012 and 2015 (+0.7 percent p.a.), economic growth gained sustained momentum from mid-2016. For 2017 and 2018, WIFO expects
annual GDP growth of 2.9 and 3.2 percent, respectively. An average annual increase of 2.1 percent is expected for the forecast
period 2018 to 2022, up from a modest +1.3 percent p.a. recorded for 2013 to 2017. The expected rate would thereby exceed
the euro area average by ¼ percentage point. The favourable external business environment will stimulate export growth (+4.1
percent p.a.) and encourage investment in new machinery and equipment. Rising disposable household income will allow private
consumption to gain 1½ percent per year, after +0.7 percent p.a. in the previous five-year period. Buoyant growth in 2018
and 2019 will stimulate job creation beyond the increase in the labour force and lead to lower unemployment. However, from
2020 onwards, labour supply may again grow in excess of demand, with the unemployment rate edging up from 7.3 percent in 2019
to 7.6 percent in 2022. Inflation remains moderate over the medium term, and the inflation differential vis-à-vis the euro
area average should narrow. The Consumer Price Index is expected to increase at an average 1.9 percent per year. Under our
assumptions for future business conditions and policy settings, the general government account may reach balance as from the
middle of the forecast period, both in headline (Maastricht) and structural terms. As a result, the ratio of government debt
to nominal GDP would fall to around 63 percent by 2022, down by 20 percentage points from 2016.
In the first quarter of 2018, the Austrian economy grew by 0.8 percent compared to the previous quarter, thus similar to the
course of the previous year. Along with a buoyant domestic economy, that growth is underpinned by foreign trade, stimulated
by a dynamic global economy. In line with that, the Austrian labour market is also continuing to show a positive trend.
Lively business activity abroad is driving Austria's export industry and raises productive capacity utilisation, giving rise
to buoyant investment. Private consumption will continue to support domestic production as income growth is set to pick up
over the forecast period. Austrian GDP is projected to grow by 3.2 percent for this year and by 2.2 percent in 2019.
Economic growth is currently robust, both internationally and in Austria, and should sustain its momentum in the months to
come. Austria's labour market keeps recovering, even if unemployment stays high. Inflation has somewhat eased lately, narrowing
the differential vis-à-vis the euro area.
Economic activity is currently buoyant globally as well as in Austria and is expected to maintain its momentum also in the
first few months of 2018. The Austrian labour market continues to recover, although unemployment remains high. The inflation
differential vis-à-vis the euro area average persists.
Austria's manufacturing sector is benefitting from buoyant international business activity. The high degree of productive
capacity utilisation provides major stimulus for domestic investment. Private consumption also lends continued support to
output growth, even if it does not give a strong additional momentum at the advanced stage of the cyclical upswing, as income
growth remains moderate.
Both the global and the Austrian economy are growing vigorously at present. Sentiment indicators suggest that this momentum
will continue also in the first few months of the coming year. This benefits the Austrian labour market, although the unemployment
rate remains high. Inflation in Austria exceeds the euro area average.