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.
In calendar week 17 (26 April to 2 May 2021), economic activity was 14.7 percent above the level of the same week last year, according to preliminary calculations. Compared with the pre-crisis level, an average week in 2019 as a fixed reference period, the GDP gap is 4.6 percent.
The renewed lockdown in eastern Austria from 1 April had led to a further slump in GDP in calendar week 14, which was, however, significantly weaker than during previous lockdown phases due to the regional restriction to eastern Austria. Economic activity improved again slightly as early as calendar week 16. The renewed lockdown had a dampening effect on production, especially in the areas of trade, transportation and other services, and on private consumption on the demand side. However, the decline in consumption is being offset by favourable momentum in goods exports and investment as well as value added in manufacturing, construction and business-related services in the wake of the global economic recovery. The GDP contribution in the accommodation and food service sector remains negative compared to the average reference week in 2019 due to the still-pending regulatory measures.
In calendar week 17, the determinants of WWWI continued the trend of the previous weeks. Credit card sales fell slightly at the current margin; unlike in previous weeks, they now also declined somewhat in the foreign currency area. Mobility declined somewhat in the area of shopping activity and workplaces, while it largely stagnated in the areas of transportation and length of stay at home. Passenger traffic at Vienna Airport increased significantly compared with the previous week.
Expansionary signals continue to come from indicators of industrial production, although their signals at the current margin are somewhat more differentiated than in previous weeks: Temperature-adjusted electricity consumption eased slightly both during the day and at night. Unemployment in the manufacturing sector, however, fell significantly compared with both the previous week and the same week last year. Moreover, the indicators in the transportation sector also present a predominantly positive picture at the current margin: rail freight transport and air freight volumes once again increased significantly; truck mileage also continues to show strong year-on-year increases, but declined slightly on a weekly basis. Positive signals continue to come from the labour market: unemployment fell week-on-week and the number of job vacancies also continued to rise strongly.