A mix of solid economic policies, wage moderation, and an early orientation toward Eastern Europe explain Austria's strong economic performance. The economy has grown strong in 2007 and through the first quarter of 2008. Employment growth remains strong, but the trend of a declining unemployment rate appears to be tapering off. Tighter labor market conditions have not resulted in sharp wage increases; instead negotiated wages for 2008 are up. Austria's external position remains strong, despite a recent decline in competitiveness.