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The growth in the number of active companies with headquarters registered in Catalonia has accelerated in the last three years, with an overall increase of 5.6% between January 2014 and January 2017. This is according to the latest data from the Central Directory of Companies (DIRCE) produced by the National Institute of Statistics (INE). According to the data, Catalonia has the highest percentage of the country's companies of any of Spain's autonomous communities, with a total of 608,981 or 18.5%. In second place is the Community of Madrid, with 526,156 companies (16%).

Deceleration in Spain

Catalonia's upward progression is in contrast to that of Spain as a whole, which has shown a pattern of deceleration since 2014. That year, the number of active companies rose by around 1.4% in Catalonia and 2.2% in Spain, but in the following years, the growth in the number of companies with headquarters in Catalonia (2% in 2015 and 2.1% in 2016) was greater than that of the country overall (1.6% in 2015 and 1.4% in 2016). The total number of companies with headquarters in Spain has increased 5.2% since 2014, 0.4% less than in Catalonia. 

Catalonia's entrepreneurial dynamism is also reflected in the fact that the increases in Catalonia are greater than those in Spain in terms of both companies without salaried employees and companies with salaried employees. Among active companies with salaried employees, medium-size ones stand out (those with between 50 and 199 workers), with a 15.6% total increase between 2014 and 2016. Next are those with more than 199 workers, which saw a 12.8% increase.

The INE's Central Directory of Companies (DIRCE) is the most robust source of information to evaluate business dynamics. The directory collects the information of companies and active establishments within Spanish territory, from a very wide range of administrative, statistical and private sources, (specifically, sources from the Tax Office, Social Security, the Business Register, surveys of the structures and circumstances of companies, private sources and others). The preparation of these statistics follows the guidelines set by the statistical office of the European Commission (Eurostat). The criterion to assign a company to a territory is the location of its head office.