National Economy Made a Good Start in the First Quarter
National Bureau of Statistics of China2021-04-16 10:00




National Bureau of Statistics of China

April 16, 2021

 

In the first quarter, faced with the test of the COVID-19 epidemic during winter and spring and the uncertainties of the external environment, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, all regions and departments conscientiously carried out the decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, consolidated and expanded the achievements of COVID-19 prevention and control as well as economic and social development, and implemented macroeconomic policies in a scientific and targeted way. As a result, the economy delivered a stable performance with a consolidated foundation and a good momentum of growth, production demand was expanded, market vitality was enhanced, employment and prices were stable and people's well-being was strongly guaranteed. The national economy made a good start.

 

According to preliminary estimates, the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter reached 24,931.0 billion yuan, up by 18.3 percent year on year, or up by 0.6 percent over that in the fourth quarter of 2020 and 10.3 percent over that in the first quarter of 2019, with an average two-year growth of 5.0 percent at comparable prices. By industry, the value added of the primary industry was 1,133.2 billion yuan, up by 8.1 percent year on year, or an average two-year growth of 2.3 percent; that of the secondary industry was 9,262.3 billion yuan, up by 24.4 percent year on year, or an average two-year growth of 6.0 percent; and that of the tertiary industry was 14,535.5 billion yuan, up by 15.6 percent year on year, or an average two-year growth of 4.7 percent. On the one hand, the year-on-year GDP growth of 18.3 percent in the first quarter was affected by such incomparable factors as the low base figure of last year and increase of working days due to staff staying put during the Spring Festival. On the other hand, the quarter-on-quarter growth of 0.6 percent in the first quarter with the average two-year growth reaching 5.0 percent demonstrated a steady recovery of the national economy.

 

1. The Overall Agricultural Production was Steady and Pig Production Recovered Significantly.

 

In the first quarter, the value added of agriculture (crop farming) witnessed a year-on-year increase of 3.3 percent, with an average two-year growth of 3.4 percent. With favorable climate conditions in major farming areas at present, spring ploughing and sowing went on smoothly, and the winter wheat grew slightly better than average years. In the first quarter, the output of pork, beef, mutton and poultry was 22 million tons, up by 21.4 percent year on year. Of this total, the output of pork was up by 31.9 percent, milk up by 8.5 percent and eggs down by 2.1 percent. Pig production recovered significantly. At the end of the first quarter, the number of pigs registered in stock was 415.95 million, up by 29.5 percent year on year, among which 43.18 million were breeding sows, up by 27.7 percent.

 

2. Industrial Production Rebounded Steadily and Manufacturing Industry Demonstrated Strong Momentum of Growth.

 

The total value added of industrial enterprises above the designated size grew by 24.5 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2021, or up by 2.01 percent quarter on quarter, with an average two-year growth of 6.8 percent. Of this total, the total value added of industrial enterprises above the designated size in March increased by 14.1 percent year on year, up by 0.60 percent month on month. An analysis by types of ownership showed that in the first quarter, the value added of state holding enterprises was up by 16.9 percent year on year; that of share-holding enterprises was up by 23.7 percent year on year; that of enterprises funded by foreign investors or investors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan was up by 29.2 percent year on year; and that of private enterprises was up by 29.7 percent year on year. In terms of sectors, the value added of mining increased by 10.1 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 4.0 percent; that of manufacturing increased by 27.3 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 6.9 percent; and the production and supply of electricity, thermal power, gas and water increased by 15.9 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 4.8 percent. The value added of equipment manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing increased by 39.9 percent and 31.2 percent respectively year on year, with an average two-year growth of 9.7 percent and 12.3 percent respectively. Specifically, the production of new-energy automobiles, industrial robots, excavating and shoveling machinery, micro computers and integrated circuits all witnessed a year-on-year growth of over 60 percent, with the average two-year growth exceeding 19 percent. In March, the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index stood at 51.9 percent, staying above the threshold for thirteen months in a row; the Production and Operation Expectation Index was 58.5 percent.

 

From January to February, the profits made by industrial enterprises above the designated size totaled 1,114.0 billion yuan, 2.79 times that of the first two months of last year, or an average two-year growth of 31.2 percent; the profit rate of the business revenue of industrial enterprises above the designated size was 6.60 percent, 3.15 percentage points higher than that of the first two months in 2020.

 

3. Service Sector Had a Restorative Growth with Positive Market Expectation.

 

The first quarter witnessed a steady recovery of the service sector. Of this total, the value added of transportation, storage and postal services and that of real estate services grew by 32.1 percent and 21.4 percent year on year respectively, with an average two-year growth of 6.6 percent and 6.8 percent respectively. In March, the Index of Services Production grew by 25.3 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 6.8 percent. In the first two months, business revenue of service enterprises above the designated size grew by 37.8 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 10.0 percent. Of this total, the business revenue of information transmission, software and information technology services and that of scientific research and technology services grew by 35.0 percent and 47.8 percent year on year respectively, with an average two-year growth of 17.4 percent and 11.5 percent respectively. In March, the Business Activity Index for Services stood at 55.2 percent, 4.4 percentage points higher than that in February. The Business Activity Index for railway transportation, air transportation, telecommunication, broadcast, television and satellite transmission services, software and information technology services, monetary and financial services stayed within the high expansion range of 60.0 percent and above; the Business Activity Index for accommodation, leasing and business services and resident services hit hard by the spread of COVID-19 in some areas at the beginning of the year rebounded to the expansion range. From the perspective of market expectation, the Business Activity Expectation Index for services stood at 62.9 percent, staying within the high expansion range of 60.0 percent and above for two consecutive months.

 

4. Market Sales Improved Gradually and Online Retail Sales Grew Rapidly.

 

In the first quarter, the total retail sales of consumer goods reached 10,522.1 billion yuan, up by 33.9 percent year on year, or up by 1.86 percent quarter on quarter, with an average two-year growth of 4.2 percent. Specifically, in March, the total retail sales of consumer goods was 3,548.4 billion yuan, up by 34.2 percent year on year, 0.4 percentage point higher than that in the first two months, an average two-year growth of 6.3 percent, or up by 1.75 percent month on month. Analyzed by different areas, the retail sales of consumer goods in urban areas reached 9,134.5 billion yuan, up by 34.6 percent year on year, or an average two-year growth of 4.3 percent, and that in rural areas rose by 29.4 percent year on year to 1,387.5 billion yuan, with an average two-year growth of 3.2 percent. Grouped by consumption patterns, the income of catering was 1,059.6 billion yuan, up by 75.8 percent year on year, or an average two-year decline of 1.0 percent; and the retail sales of goods were 9,462.5 billion yuan, up by 30.4 percent year on year, or an average two-year growth of 4.8 percent. Grouped by categories, for retail sales of goods by enterprises above the designated size in the first quarter, the year-on-year growth rates of 18 categories of goods exceeded 10 percent. Specifically, the retail sales of sports and recreational articles and communication equipment grew by 45.2 percent and 42.4 percent year on year respectively, with an average two-year growth of 17.4 percent and 17.1 percent respectively. The online retail sales reached 2,809.3 billion yuan, up by 29.9 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 13.5 percent. Specifically, the online retail sales of physical goods totaled 2,306.7 billion yuan, up by 25.8 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 15.4 percent, accounting for 21.9 percent of the total retail sales of consumer goods, 1.2 percentage points higher than that in the first two months of this year.

 

5. Investment in Fixed Assets Recovered Steadily and Investment in High-tech Industries and Social Sectors Grew Fast.

 

In the first quarter, the investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) reached 9,599.4 billion yuan, up by 25.6 percent over that of last year, or up by 2.06 percent quarter on quarter with an average two-year growth of 2.9 percent. In March, the investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) grew by 1.51 percent month on month. Specifically, in the first quarter, the investment in infrastructure was up by 29.7 percent year on year, an average two-year growth of 2.3 percent; manufacturing up by 29.8 percent year on year, an average two-year decrease of 2.0 percent and real estate development up by 25.6 percent year on year, an average two-year growth of 7.6 percent. The floor space of commercial buildings sold reached 360.07 million square meters, up by 63.8 percent year on year, an average two-year growth of 9.9 percent. The total sales of commercial buildings were 3,837.8 billion yuan, up by 88.5 percent year on year, an average two-year growth of 19.1 percent. By industry, the investment in the primary industry went up by 45.9 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 14.8 percent; that in the secondary industry up by 27.8 percent year on year, with an average two-year decrease of 0.3 percent; and that in the tertiary industry grew by 24.1 percent year on year, an average two-year growth of 4.0 percent. The private investment went up by 26.0 percent year on year, an average two-year growth of 1.7 percent. The investment in high-tech industries grew by 37.3 percent year on year, an average two-year growth of 9.9 percent. Specifically, the investment in high-tech manufacturing and high-tech services grew by 41.6 percent and 28.6 percent year on year respectively, with an average two-year growth of 10.7 percent and 8.2 percent respectively. In terms of high-tech manufacturing, the investment in manufacturing of medical equipment, measuring instruments and meters and in manufacturing of computers and office devices grew by 50.0 percent and 49.5 percent year on year respectively, with an average two-year growth of 9.1 percent and 24.2 percent respectively. In terms of high-tech services, the investment in testing services and in research, development and design services went up by 55.7 percent and 48.2 percent year on year respectively, an average two-year growth of 14.8 percent and 21.5 percent respectively. The investment in social sectors went up by 31.7 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 9.6 percent. Specifically, the investment in health sector and education sector went up by 50.9 percent and 27.0 percent year on year respectively, an average two-year growth of 22.3 percent and 10.4 percent respectively.

 

6. Imports and Exports of Goods Witnessed Noticeable Momentum of Growth and Trade Structure Continued to Optimize.

 

In the first quarter, the total value of imports and exports of goods was 8,468.7 billion yuan, an increase of 29.2 percent over that of the previous year. The total value of exports was 4,614.0 billion yuan, up by 38.7 percent year on year; that of imports was 3,854.7 billion yuan, up by 19.3 percent year on year. The trade balance was 759.3 billion yuan in surplus. In March, the total value of imports and exports of goods was 3,022.8 billion yuan, up by 24.0 percent year on year. The total value of exports was 1,555.4 billion yuan, up by 20.7 percent year on year; that of imports was 1,467.4 billion yuan, up by 27.7 percent year on year. The trade structure continued to optimize. In the first quarter, the imports and exports of general trade accounted for 61.2 percent of the total value of the imports and exports, 1.3 percentage points higher than the same period of the previous year. The imports and exports by private enterprises accounted for 46.7 percent of the total value of the imports and exports, 4.4 percentage points higher than the same period of the previous year.

 

7. The Consumer Price Maintained the Same Level Year on Year and Producer Prices for Industrial Products Went up Year on Year.

 

In the first quarter, the consumer price maintained the same level of growth as the previous year. In March, the consumer price went up by 0.4 percent year on year, and down by 0.2 percent in February; or down by 0.5 percent month on month. In the first quarter, the consumer price went down by 0.1 percent in urban areas and kept the same level in rural areas. Grouped by commodity categories, prices for food, tobacco and alcohol wen up by 0.6 percent year on year; clothing down by 0.2 percent; housing down by 0.2 percent; articles and services for daily use down by 0.1 percent; transportation and communication down by 1.4 percent; education, culture and recreation up by 0.3 percent; medical services up by 0.3 percent; and other articles and services down by 1.1 percent. In terms of food, tobacco and alcohol prices, the price for grain went up by 1.5 percent, fresh vegetable up by 4.8 percent and pork down by 12.5 percent, or down by 18.4 percent in March with a decline expanded by 3.5 percentage points compared with that in February. In the first quarter, Core CPI excluding the price of food and energy stayed the same as that of the last year.

 

In the first quarter, the producer prices for industrial products went up by 2.1 percent year on year. Specifically, the prices in March went up by 4.4 percent year on year, 2.7 percentage points higher than the growth in February, or up by 1.6 percent month on month. In the first quarter, the purchasing prices for industrial producers went up by 2.8 percent. Specifically, the prices in March went up by 5.2 percent, 2.8 percentage points higher compared with the growth in February, or up by 1.8 percent month on month.

 

8. The Urban Surveyed Unemployment Rate Went Down and the Employment Was Generally Stable.

 

In the first quarter, the newly increased employed people in urban areas numbered 2.97 million. In March, the urban surveyed unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, down by 0.2 percentage point compared with that in February and 0.6 percentage point lower than that of the same period of the previous year. The surveyed unemployment rate of population with local household registration was 5.3 percent and that of population with non-local household registration was 5.4 percent. Specifically, the surveyed unemployment rate of the population aged from 16 to 24 and from 25 to 29 was 13.6 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. The urban surveyed unemployment rate in 31 major cities was 5.3 percent, 0.2 percentage point lower than that in February. In March, the employees of enterprises worked 46.9 hours per week on average, up by 0.6 hour compared with that in February. At the end of the first quarter, the number of rural migrant workers totaled 174.05 million.

 

9. Residents Income Continued to Rise and the Income Growth of Rural Residents Outpaced that of Urban Residents.

 

In the first quarter, the nationwide per capita disposable income of residents was 9,730 yuan, a nominal increase of 13.7 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 7.0 percent, or a real increase of 13.7 percent year on year after deducting price factors, with an average two-year growth of 4.5 percent. In terms of permanent residence, the per capita disposable income of urban households was 13,120 yuan, a nominal increase of 12.2 percent year on year and a real increase of 12.3 percent; the per capita disposable income of rural households was 5,398 yuan, a nominal increase of 16.3 percent year on year and a real increase of 16.3 percent. In terms of income source, the nationwide per capita salary income, net operative income, net property income and net income from transfers saw a year-on-year growth of 12.4 percent, 19.5 percent, 17.0 percent and 10.7 percent in nominal terms respectively. The per capita disposable income of urban households was 2.43 times that of the rural households, 0.09 less than the ratio of the same period last year. The median of the nationwide per capita disposable income was 8,014 yuan, an increase of 12.7 percent.

 

Generally speaking, the national economy in the first quarter presented continued momentum of stable recovery. However, we must be aware that the COVID-19 epidemic is still spreading globally and the international landscape is complicated with high uncertainties and instabilities; the foundation for domestic economic recovery is yet to be consolidated and the long-standing structural problems remain prominent with new situations and issues arising from development. At the next stage, we must follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and continue to consolidate the foundation of economic stability, to gather strength for development and to guarantee basic requirements for security. We should maintain the consistency, stability and sustainability of macro policies, deepen the reform and opening-up and innovation, keep the economy performing within a reasonable range and promote the quality development of the economy in a solid way.

 

Notes:

 

1. The average two-year growth is the geometric mean of the growth with the data of the same period in 2019 as the base.

 

2. The growth rate of GDP and value added of industrial enterprises above designated size and its sub-items are real growth by using comparable prices. The growth rates of other indicators are nominal growth by using current prices unless otherwise specified.

 

3. According to the auto-revision function of the seasonal adjustment model, revisions are made to quarter-on-quarter growth of GDP and to month-on-month changes of the value added of industrial enterprises above designated size, investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households), and total retail sales of consumer goods. The revised figures, quarter-on-quarter GDP growth for the first quarter of 2021 and month-on-month changes of other indicators for March 2021 are as follows:

 

The quarter-on-quarter growth of GDP in 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021 are -9.3 percent, 10.1 percent, 3.1 percent, 3.2 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.

 

Month-on-Month Growth Rate of Other Indicators

 

 

Value Added of Industrial Enterprises above Designated Size

(%)

Investment in Fixed  Assets (Excluding Rural Households)

(%)

Total Retail Sales of Consumer Goods

(%)

 

 

 

 

March, 2020

36.56

1.92

 0.87

April

 1.89

1.81

 0.99

May

 1.27

1.29

 4.83

June

 1.29

1.54

 1.19

July

 0.92

1.24

 0.48

August

 1.02

1.61

 1.18

September

 1.09

1.15

 4.75

October

 0.79

1.43

 0.51

November

 0.60

1.36

 1.35

December

 0.65

1.35

 1.18

January, 2021

 0.66

1.15

-0.92

February

 0.69

1.50

 1.45

March

 0.60

1.51

 1.75

 

 

 

 

 

4. Industrial enterprises above designated size are industrial enterprises with annual revenue from principal business over 20 million yuan.

 

As industrial enterprises above the designated size change every year, to ensure the data comparability between years, the coverage of the data of the same period last year used for estimating year-on-year growth rates like that of products output, are as consistent as possible with the current period and different from the coverage of the data published last year. The main reasons are as follows: First, the statistical units change. Every year, some enterprises are included in the survey as they meet the threshold, while some enterprises are removed from the survey because of downsizing. Besides, enterprises that have newly gone into operation, been bankrupted, canceled their registrations or had their business licenses revoked also cause impact. Second, duplicated outputs across regions of enterprise groups have been removed based on the ad hoc surveys since duplication is found in the products output of some enterprise groups.

 

5. The Index of Services Production is the change of production in the reporting period compared to the base period with the price factors deducted.

 

6. The scope of the total retail sales of consumer goods include all legal entities, establishments and self-employed individuals involved in retail trades or providing catering services. Specifically, businesses above the designated size include wholesale enterprises (businesses), retail enterprises (businesses) and lodging and catering enterprises (businesses) with annual revenue from principal business over 20 million yuan, 5 million yuan and 2 million yuan respectively.

 

As the wholesale, retail, and lodging and catering enterprises (businesses) above the designated size change every year, to ensure the data comparability between years, the coverage of the data of the same period last year used for estimating year-on-year growth rates like that of the retail sales of consumer goods by businesses above the designated size is consistent with the current period and different from the coverage of data published last year. The main reasons are: some enterprises (businesses) are included in the survey as they meet the threshold, while some enterprises (businesses) are removed from the survey because of downsizing every year. Besides, enterprises (businesses) that have newly gone into operation, been bankrupted, canceled their registrations or had their business licenses revoked also cause impact.

 

Online retail sales refer to the retail sales of goods and services realized through internet trading platforms (including self-built websites and third-party platforms). Goods and services include physical goods and non-physical goods (e.g. virtual goods and services).

 

The total retail sales of consumer goods include the online retail sales of physical goods, but not the non-physical goods.

 

7. Data of investment in fixed assets of the same period last year are revised according to the results of statistical law enforcement and inspection and regulations of statistical survey programs. The growth rates are calculated on a comparable basis.

 

8. Employed people refer to people aged 16 and above who have the ability to work and engage in gainful employment for remuneration payment or business income.

 

9. The median of the nationwide per capita disposable income of residents refers to the per capita disposable income of households which lies in the middle of all surveyed households ranked from low to high on the basis of per capita disposable income level.

 

10. Data of imports and exports are from the General Administration of Customs; data of newly increased employed people in urban areas are from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

 

11. Due to the rounding-off reasons, the subentries may not add up to the aggregate totals.

 

In case of any differences between English translation and the original Chinese text, the Chinese edition shall prevail.

 

Annex
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