3.6. Summary of intermediate performance indicators

In line with previous reports, the analysis of innovation as an intermediate performance indicator reveals the existence of certain weaknesses, especially as regards to patents, where the Basque Country ranks near the bottom among comparable regions. However, another set of indicators demonstrate that efforts made in recent years are bearing fruit. Highlights include firstly, strong performance in terms of scientific output, and secondly, the level of novelty of products sold by Basque firms.

Apparent productivity of labour, an indicator which must improve in order to be competitive, remains above that of comparable territories and is increasing steadily. In recent years, this productivity has also been accompanied by a net increase in jobs. One element which could partially explain this higher productivity in the Basque Country is its specialisation in the industrial sector, as productivity levels for this sector are clearly higher than those of the other sectors (and the economy as a whole).

The Basque economy has also seen positive growth in its export levels, although this has been due to trends in certain sectors. Until 2016, Basque exports followed a similar trend to those of the other territories considered, but with lower growth rates, whereas in 2017 and 2018, it was the Basque Country which saw the highest growth in export value, partially due to higher growth by oil refining exports. Basque exports also show significant dependence on a small number of firms, where a high percentage of all exports are concentrated. Among the remaining exporters, their number had been trending very positively in recent years, but decreased in the last year, which has resulted in an increase in the average value of exports per firm. However, one particularly positive item is the upswing in regular exporters.

All of this has translated into job creation, positive growth for employment rates, and immigrants once again coming to the Basque Country. Nonetheless, there is still considerable margin for improvement in different aspects related to jobs. Firstly, total and female employment rates still remain low in relation to comparable regions. Secondly, the quality of new employment contracts did not improve during the period of recovery from the crisis. This is reflected in the high percentage of temporary contracts – which have also been steadily increasing since 2014, unlike in other territories – the higher level of involuntary part-time employment than in the other territories analysed, and high unemployment rates, especially among young people and persons over the age of 55.