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Spain Table of Contents



The rise and fall of Spanish construction activity tended to parallel the ebb and flow of the general economy. During the 1960s and the 1970s, a genuine boom occurred in construction, but it was more a reflection of the strong increase in tourism than a response to housing needs that had been created by industrial and urban growth. Extensive demand for hotels, apartment buildings, vacation housing, and amenities in tourist centers absorbed the attention of much of the construction industry.

During the 1974 to 1984 period, the construction industry, like the rest of the economy, was in the doldrums. The year 1985 was an especially poor one for construction, but, as the pace of economic activity increased in 1986, there was also a notable acceleration in construction. Cement consumption increased by 10.2 percent, compared with 1985; new private-sector housing starts increased by 10 percent; and construction expenditures rose by 5 percent. The construction boom was even stronger in 1987, when the industry registered an increase of 10 percent, the highest rate of growth in all Spanish industries. In the same year, the construction sector came to represent 7 percent of the country's GDP. Strong industrial expansion continued throughout 1988, and much of Spain's new construction was concentrated on urban offices, private housing, and tourist facilities.

Employment has increased in all of Spain's nonagricultural sectors, but the construction industry showed the greatest relative increase--11.2 percent--as a result of the 88,100 new jobs it created in 1986. By comparison, there had been only 7,300 new construction jobs in 1985, and there had been and a decrease of 110,400 jobs in 1984. In the late 1980s, overall construction employment accounted for approximately one-third of the industrial work force. Despite the boom, however, the sector still operated at a level considerably below its capacity in the late 1980s, and the unemployment rate among Spanish construction workers was as high as 30 percent.

Data as of December 1988