First quarter economic growth slowest in 4 years

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The Philippine economy posted a 5.6% gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported this morning.

The first quarter outcome was lower than the 6.3% in the previous quarter and 6.5% in the first quarter of 2018.

This was the slowest expansion in four years or since the 5.1% logged in the first quarter of 2015. This also snapped the economy’s sixteen-quarter growth streak of at least 6% growth.

This was likewise lower than the 6.1% median estimate in a BusinessWorld poll of 20 economists conducted last week as well as missing the downward revised 6%-7% target set by the government for 2019.

On the supply side, services led the way with a 7% expansion, faster than the 6.7% recorded in the same period last year.


Meanwhile, the industry sector grew by 4.4%, slower than last year’s 7.7%. Growth in agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing likewise slowed to 0.8% versus the 1.1% in the same quarter last year.

On the demand side, government spending recorded a 7.4% growth albeit slower than the 13.6% growth in the first quarter of 2018.

Private investment, which is represented in the data as capital formation, slowed down during the quarter at 6.8% compared to 10.3% previously.

Growth in the exports and imports of goods and services also eased to 5.8% and 8.3%, respectively, from 10.3% and 11.3%.

On the other hand, household spending recorded a 6.3% growth, accelerating from 5.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 5.6% in the first quarter of 2018.

Gross national income – the sum of the nation’s GDP and net income received from overseas – posted a 4.9% growth in the first three months of 2019 compared to 5.7% the previous quarter and 6.3% in the 2018’s comparable three months. — Marissa Mae M. Ramos