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GDP grew by 0.9 per cent in real terms in 2016 in the Centre-North and also in the South; in the latter area these developments confirm the turning point in the business cycle that occurred in 2015, following seven consecutive years of contraction. In the Centre-North, growth was more

marked in the North-East than in the North-West or Centre.

The increase in value added in non-construction industry was particularly noticeable in the South. Services were found to be growing in all the macro-areas, especially in the North-East, where the positive performance of tourism-related activities was a factor. Construction industry stabilized across all areas.

Data for the first half of this year indicate that growth is consolidating in all the macro-areas, particularly in the regions of the Centre-North. Improved business confidence and investment conditions point to a nationwide strengthening of investment in industry. Export growth has continued in all the macro-areas. Throughout the country compensation for employees has continued to benefit from better labour market conditions, albeit alongside a fall in hourly earnings. The positive performance of credit to the private non-financial sector has continued and spread to all the macro-areas, thanks to the expansion of lending to households.

 

The South still lags significantly behind the rest of the country. In 2016 per capita GDP in the southern regions was 56 per cent of that of the other areas. The gap is due both to the different proportion of persons employed and to productivity differences, which depend on environmental factors, the utilization of qualified labour, and the capacity to attract better-educated workers. Only in the Centre-North has it been possible to return to pre-crisis employment levels and improve on them. In the South, it is more difficult to find a first job and it takes longer for someone who has worked previously to find a new job.