Joan Collins THE Balearics is the only autonomous region to register a fall in consumer spending per person in the period 2000-2005, with a fall of 0.5 percent in comparison with the national average rise of 14.9 percent. A report published yesterday by Caixa Catalonia blamed this on the rise in population. It also predicted a further slowing down of consumer spending in the islands during the next two years. The study highlights the “extreme” case of the Balearics because this unique fall in spending per inhabitant (the next region on the list is La Rioja with an increase of 8.9 percent) contrasts “sharply” with the rise in total spending in the Balearics (23.8 percent) which is similar to the the national average (24.5 percent) in this five year period (2000-2005). According to Caixa Catalonia, this difference “clearly reflects the explosive growth in the population in the Balearics during this period” (24.4 percent from 2000 to 2005 which was the highest in Spain, the national average being 8.4 percent), making the islands the leader “by a considerable distance” of the regions where the population has increased. Also, the Balearics was the autonomous region where there was a higher percentage growth in the number of homes between 2000 and 2005 (32.4 percent), higher than the Canary Islands (29.3 percent) and Murcia (27.1 percent) and very much higher than the national average of 17.9 percent, according to the report. The report also highlighted that, in spite of this high growth (4.8 percent annual average), the islands registered an increase in consumer spending which was lower than the national average. There was also a fall in confidence with regard to the economic situation in the Balearics. This is attributable to the increase in the population, in 2005 there was a sharp fall of 50.9 percent in the number of homes on the islands with all occupants unemployed (after rises of 35, 24 and 42 percent in the three previous years), which was the largest drop in Spain, the national average being 14 percent.